Definition of volunteer in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌvälənˈtir/


1A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task.
Example sentences
  • Last weekend volunteers undertook the painstaking task of cutting the grass around the base of each stone with scissors, in preparation for the restoration work.
  • Unfortunately in hurling, team officials are burdened with the extra task of finding volunteers as umpires and linesmen for almost all games.
  • It takes the help of many volunteers to make this event possible and we are in need of volunteers for all tasks.
subject, participant, case, patient
informal guinea pig
1.1A person who works for an organization without being paid.
Example sentences
  • The organization relies on volunteers to not only work behind the scenes in the office, but to also pick up a hammer and lend a helping hand in the actual construction of the homes.
  • The organization relies on volunteers to pick up donations, unpack donations, pack hampers and work in the food bank on Wednesdays.
  • What started out as bar talk ended up becoming an organization with 4,000 volunteers.
1.2A person who freely enrolls for military service rather than being conscripted, especially a member of a force formed by voluntary enrollment and distinct from the regular army.
Example sentences
  • The success of any campaign to induce volunteers or force conscripts into an army will be decided, to a large extent, by circumstances.
  • Is it a conscript force, volunteer military, or blend?
  • Remember the old soldiering wish for volunteers rather than conscripts.
1.3A plant that has not been deliberately planted.
Example sentences
  • Besides the mother tree, there's a productive volunteer seedling nearby.
  • It is possible to transplant any small volunteers by digging them up when they're quite small.
  • The planting of cover crops or allowing volunteer plants to grow is becoming more common.
1.4 Law A person to whom a voluntary conveyance or deposition is made.
Example sentences
  • Does a religious objection to duty amount to a belief, and does an unwillingness by a volunteer to respond to recall amount to a manifestation of that belief?
  • Here one has, on the evidence as I understand it, a volunteer who might well be inferred to have notice.
  • It similarly binds Mr. Murphy's children who are volunteers.


[no object]
1Freely offer to do something: he volunteered for the job [with infinitive]: I rashly volunteered to be a contestant
More example sentences
  • You can also offer your support by volunteering on race day.
  • But these men and women freely volunteered to do what they did, and they were paid, and paid well, for it.
  • Three employees volunteered to stay behind, and they worked long hours.
1.1 [with object] Offer (help): he volunteered his services as a driver for the convoy
More example sentences
  • Today, the committee has 30 drivers who volunteer their help for the meals-on-wheels service.
  • But other southern states volunteering help, like Arkansas and Alabama, are not much better-off than their neighbours.
  • Many thanks also to all who volunteered help during the year both in fundraising and other areas.
offer, tender, proffer, put forward, put up, venture
1.2 [reporting verb] Say or suggest something without being asked: [with object]: it never paid to volunteer information [with direct speech]: “Her name’s Louise,” Christina volunteered
More example sentences
  • You just can't imagine volunteering the information that would kill your friends.
  • Instead, I allowed the witnesses to volunteer any information, impressions or feelings they had about the event and kept my eyes open.
  • What about the problem of silence in order to allow the accused to volunteer information, which is a very common technique of interrogation?
1.3Work for an organization without being paid.
Example sentences
  • Immigrants' limited involvement revolves around volunteering for civic organizations.
  • Unlike older adults, very few volunteered through religious organizations.
  • He was actively involved in volunteering for various non-profit organizations, which primarily serve the minority population.
offer one's services, present oneself, make oneself available, sign up
1.4 [with object] Commit (someone) to a particular undertaking, typically without consulting them: he was volunteered for parachute training by friends
More example sentences
  • I mention this now because Girlfriend has volunteered me to give Charlie a lift to Birmingham tomorrow evening, to pick up her repaired bike from a breakdown which happened last Wednesday.
  • He was a 19-year-old rifleman in Northern Ireland when he was volunteered to take part in what he thought was common cold research.
  • We fishermen had a small role to play; in addition to tagging our catches, Dan had volunteered us as fish herders.


Late 16th century (as a noun, with military reference): from French volontaire 'voluntary'. The change in the ending was due to association with -eer.

Words that rhyme with volunteer

adhere, Agadir, Anglosphere, appear, arrear, auctioneer, austere, balladeer, bandolier, Bashkir, beer, besmear, bier, blear, bombardier, brigadier, buccaneer, cameleer, career, cashier, cavalier, chandelier, charioteer, cheer, chevalier, chiffonier, clavier, clear, Coetzee, cohere, commandeer, conventioneer, Cordelier, corsetière, Crimea, dear, deer, diarrhoea (US diarrhea), domineer, Dorothea, drear, ear, electioneer, emir, endear, engineer, fear, fleer, Freer, fusilier, gadgeteer, Galatea, gazetteer, gear, gondolier, gonorrhoea (US gonorrhea), Greer, grenadier, hand-rear, hear, here, Hosea, idea, interfere, Izmir, jeer, Judaea, Kashmir, Keir, kir, Korea, Lear, leer, Maria, marketeer, Medea, Meir, Melilla, mere, Mia, Mir, mishear, mountaineer, muleteer, musketeer, mutineer, near, orienteer, pamphleteer, panacea, paneer, peer, persevere, pier, Pierre, pioneer, pistoleer, privateer, profiteer, puppeteer, racketeer, ratafia, rear, revere, rhea, rocketeer, Sapir, scrutineer, sear, seer, sere, severe, Shamir, shear, sheer, sincere, smear, sneer, sonneteer, souvenir, spear, sphere, steer, stere, summiteer, Tangier, tear, tier, Trier, Tyr, veer, veneer, Vere, Vermeer, vizier, Wear, weir, we're, year, Zaïre

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: vol·un·teer

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