Definition of volunteer in English:


Line breaks: vol¦un|teer
Pronunciation: /ˌvɒlənˈtɪə


  • 1A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task: a call for volunteers to act as foster-parents
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    • 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, client, patient
    informal guinea pig
  • 1.1A person who freely enrols for military service rather than being conscripted, especially a member of a force formed by voluntary enrolment and distinct from the regular army.
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    • 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.
  • 1.2A plant that has not been deliberately planted.
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    • 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.
  • 2A person who works for an organization without being paid: the railway is operated solely by volunteers
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    • 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.
  • 2.1 Law A person to whom a voluntary conveyance or disposition is made.
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    • 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.


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  • 1 [no object] Freely offer to do something: 140 employees volunteered for redundancy [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) freely: he volunteered his services as a driver for the convoy
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    • 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.
  • 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
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    • 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?
  • 1.3 [with object] Commit (someone) to a particular undertaking, typically without consulting them: he was volunteered for parachute training by friends
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    • 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.
  • 2 [no object] Work for an organization without being paid: (as noun volunteering) volunteering is an easy way to get involved in practical conservation
    More 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, step forward, come forward, make oneself available


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

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