Definition of voluntary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvɒlənt(ə)ri/


1Done, given, or acting of one’s own free will: we are funded by voluntary contributions
More example sentences
  • A new landlord and landlady have taken over a York pub - with ambitious plans to restore it to its former glory - after the previous owners went into voluntary liquidation.
  • Her business was placed into voluntary liquidation on December 5, 2002, with estimated debts of £84,558.
  • Eventually, the company overstretched itself and was ultimately forced to file for voluntary liquidation.
optional, discretionary, at one's discretion, elective, non-compulsory, non-mandatory, not required, open, open to choice, volitional, up to the individual;
Law  permissive
rare discretional
1.1 Physiology Under the conscious control of the brain: voluntary contraction of the calf muscles
More example sentences
  • Such receptors are commonly responsible for the fastest forms of chemical communication between cells, and include the nicotinic receptors that mediate the voluntary control of skeletal muscle.
  • It is controlled by the autonomic nervous system, but is also under voluntary control.
  • The cerebrum controls voluntary actions, thought, speech, and memory.
2Working, done, or maintained without payment: a voluntary helper
More example sentences
  • The school cleaner volunteers have been protesting for about a month outside the gates of the legislature, demanding payment for voluntary work offered since 1997.
  • Meals-on-Wheels urgently requires 2 voluntary helpers/cooks to assist in the preparing, cooking and dishing out dinners and deserts.
  • More voluntary helpers are needed in Kilconduff cemetery on Saturday mornings at 10 am to help with the digging, cleaning, strimming and weeding.
unpaid, unsalaried, without pay, without payment, free of charge, without charge, for nothing, for free;
honorary, volunteer, unrewarded;
Law  pro bono (publico)
2.1 Law (Of a conveyance or disposition) made without return in money or other consideration.
Example sentences
  • Section 120 deals with voluntary settlements and marriage settlements.
  • There is no reason in principle why this jurisdiction should be limited to voluntary settlements in the strict sense.
  • If there are junior liens outstanding, they are not eliminated by a voluntary conveyance.

noun (plural voluntaries)

1An organ solo played before, during, or after a church service.
Example sentences
  • Lara hissed, supposedly under her breath, but it was picked up over the microphone and echoed around the church above the organ voluntary.
  • His Melothesia, published in 1673, contains preludes and dances for harpsichord by himself and other court composers, with seven organ voluntaries as well as the earliest known printed rules for realizing a figured bass.
  • The organ voluntary was the Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon, Handel
1.1 historical A piece of music performed extempore, especially as a prelude to other music, or composed in a free style.
Example sentences
  • After the ceremony the couple sign a wedding certificate, and they leave to the sound of the trumpet voluntary - again music full of associations with weddings down the years.
  • It consists of a complete four-minute piece, in the form of a simple prelude or voluntary and the start - just a few bars - of a fugal Allegro in the manner of a toccata.
  • As a trumpeter, I have played a number of trumpet tunes and voluntaries that were transcriptions of original baroque organ works.
2(In a competition) a special performance left to the performer’s choice.



Pronunciation: /ˈvɒləntərɪnəs/
Example sentences
  • Other studies conducted in the Netherlands have indicated how voluntariness is compromised, alternatives not presented and the criterion of unrelievable suffering bypassed.
  • A subsidiary argument is that it would in any event be difficult for a court to satisfy itself of the voluntariness of the renunciation of criminal purpose, and that such occasions might well involve a mixture of motives on D's part.
  • Alternatively, addictive conditions are sometimes pictured as bypassing the will altogether, causing us to do things that do not even satisfy the minimal conditions of voluntariness.


Late Middle English: from Old French volontaire or Latin voluntarius, from voluntas 'will'.

  • Voluntary goes back to Latin voluntas ‘will’. The related word volunteer dates from the late 16th century as a military term.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: vol¦un|tary

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