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From Middle English *voluntarie, from Old French volontaire, from Latin voluntarius (willing, of free will), from voluntas (will, choice, desire), from volens, present participle of velle (to will).


  • (file)


voluntary (comparative more voluntary, superlative most voluntary)

  1. Done, given, or acting of one's own free will.
    • N. W. Taylor
      That sin or guilt pertains exclusively to voluntary action is the true principle of orthodoxy.
    • Alexander Pope
      She fell to lust a voluntary prey.
  2. Done by design or intention; intentional.
    If a man accidentally kills another by lopping a tree, it is not voluntary manslaughter.
  3. Working or done without payment.
  4. Endowed with the power of willing.
    • Hooker
      God did not work as a necessary, but a voluntary, agent, intending beforehand, and decreeing with himself, that which did outwardly proceed from him.
  5. Of or relating to voluntaryism.
    a voluntary church, in distinction from an established or state church



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voluntary (comparative more voluntary, superlative most voluntary)

  1. (obsolete) Voluntarily.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, III.4:
      And all that els was pretious and deare, / The sea unto him voluntary brings [...].


voluntary (plural voluntaries)

  1. (music) A short piece of music, often having improvisation, played on a solo instrument
  2. A volunteer