1. a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.
  2. a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.
  3. Military. a person who enters the service voluntarily rather than through conscription or draft, especially for special or temporary service rather than as a member of the regular or permanent army.
  4. Law.
    1. a person whose actions are not founded on any legal obligation so to act.
    2. a person who intrudes into a matter that does not concern him or her, as a person who pays the debt of another where he or she is neither legally nor morally bound to do so and has no interest to protect in making the payment.
  5. Agriculture. a volunteer plant.
  6. (initial capital letter) a native or inhabitant of Tennessee (used as a nickname).


  1. of, relating to, or being a volunteer or volunteers: a volunteer fireman.
  2. Agriculture. growing without being seeded, planted, or cultivated by a person; springing up spontaneously.

verb (used without object)

  1. to offer oneself for some service or undertaking.
  2. to enter service or enlist as a volunteer.

verb (used with object)

  1. to offer (oneself or one’s services) for some undertaking or purpose.
  2. to give, bestow, or perform voluntarily: to volunteer a song.
  3. to say, tell, or communicate voluntarily: to volunteer an explanation.


    1. a person who performs or offers to perform voluntary service
    2. (as modifier)a volunteer system; volunteer advice
  1. a person who freely undertakes military service, esp temporary or special service
  2. law
    1. a person who does some act or enters into a transaction without being under any legal obligation to do so and without being promised any remuneration for his services
    2. property lawa person to whom property is transferred without his giving any valuable consideration in return, as a legatee under a will
    1. a plant that grows from seed that has not been deliberately sown
    2. (as modifier)a volunteer plant


  1. to offer (oneself or one’s services) for an undertaking by choice and without request or obligation
  2. (tr) to perform, give, or communicate voluntarilyto volunteer help; to volunteer a speech
  3. (intr) to enlist voluntarily for military service

c.1600, “one who offers himself for military service,” from Middle French voluntaire, noun use of adj. meaning “voluntary,” from Latin voluntarius “voluntary, of one’s free will” (see voluntary). Non-military sense is first recorded 1630s. The verb is first recorded 1755, from the noun. Tennessee has been the Volunteer State since the Mexican War, when a call for 2,800 volunteers brought out 30,000 men.

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