Meaning of voluntary in English:


Pronunciation /ˈvɒlənt(ə)ri/

See synonyms for voluntary

Translate voluntary into Spanish


  • 1Done, given, or acting of one's own free will.

    ‘we are funded by voluntary contributions’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The chapel was built with voluntary contributions and opened in 1956.’
    • ‘The company ceased trading in March 1991 and went into voluntary liquidation three years later.’
    • ‘In a statement issued by the global company, it said voluntary redundancy still remained open to staff and that there would be no compulsory redundancies made during 2003.’
    • ‘The needs of this enterprise - supported almost entirely through voluntary donations - would have been extraordinary.’
    • ‘The fund was supported solely by voluntary contributions; no church dollars were used.’
    • ‘‘It's an enormously worthwhile cause, which has to be supported by voluntary contributions,’ she said.’
    • ‘A 30-day consultation process will begin on Monday to agree on the voluntary redundancies and payment packages for those leaving the firm.’
    • ‘Informed consent was obtained from all the study participants prior to data collection and participation was completely voluntary.’
    • ‘First, the patient may choose to die, usually described as voluntary euthanasia.’
    • ‘Participation is totally voluntary but has been continual and according to the students quite rewarding.’
    • ‘The government has also been keen to emphasise that participation in any mission will be strictly voluntary.’
    • ‘Of course posting such information would be completely voluntary, a gift to the community.’
    • ‘A spokesman said employees could either be redeployed, retrained or take voluntary redundancy.’
    • ‘About five of the 15 took up an offer to apply for voluntary redundancy.’
    • ‘The risk is that what starts as voluntary euthanasia becomes extended to involuntary euthanasia.’
    • ‘But when it comes to compliance with the law, it has got to be largely voluntary.’
    • ‘Participation in the survey was voluntary and not a required part of the course.’
    optional, discretionary, at one's discretion, elective, non-compulsory, non-mandatory, not required, open, open to choice, volitional, up to the individual
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    1. 1.1Physiology Under the conscious control of the brain.
      ‘voluntary contraction of the calf muscles’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It attacks motor neurones in the spinal cord and lower brain, which transmit signals from the brain to the voluntary muscles throughout the body.’
      • ‘Inline skating - unlike other popular forms of cardio exercise-works both voluntary and involuntary core muscles.’
  • 2Working, done, or maintained without payment.

    ‘a voluntary helper’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The 90-unit development will comprise of travellers accommodation, local authority housing and voluntary housing.’
    • ‘The Committee take this opportunity to thank you for your continued support, and a special word of thanks also to all the voluntary helpers and committee.’
    • ‘A town of charm and dignity, much improved in recent years due mainly to the labours of this committee and a very large number of voluntary helpers.’
    • ‘Council leaders, voluntary groups and housing associations will be invited to put forward people to take part in the controversial scheme.’
    • ‘Many shows are struggling to make financial ends meet and are increasingly dependant on voluntary helpers and sponsorship.’
    • ‘As the work is ongoing more voluntary helpers are needed to help complete the work.’
    • ‘It later emerged an untrained voluntary helper had taken 10 boys on a morning walk.’
    • ‘The chairperson in her address thanked all the voluntary helpers, especially the minibus drivers and all the people who patronised the centre during the year.’
    • ‘‘I have grave concerns about handing our work over to voluntary housing organisations,’ she said.’
    • ‘Local authorities and other public bodies, housing associations and voluntary organisations, all need to work together to respond the complex needs of young people who are socially excluded.’
    • ‘The voluntary housing association is planning an ‘affordable’ housing estate for the near future to meet the increasing demand in the area.’
    • ‘The Corporation was also involved in affordable housing schemes in the City and also played a major role in the various voluntary housing projects being constructed in Waterford.’
    • ‘While maintaining the voluntary element in its structure the management of the Board are grateful for funding from diverse Government sources and for the hard working staff thus funded.’
    • ‘Overall the vast majority of voluntary organizations expressed satisfaction with the quality of their evaluations and believe that they use the results effectively.’
    • ‘‘We know that some of the voluntary housing agencies are in discussions with land-owners in the town,’ he said.’
    • ‘He added: ‘I look forward to further funding in the voluntary housing sector in this county in the future.’’
    • ‘The Government funding is available for subsidised housing, covering accommodation rented to tenants from local authorities and aid for voluntary housing areas.’
    unpaid, unsalaried, without pay, without payment, free of charge, without charge, for nothing, for free
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    1. 2.1Law (of a conveyance or disposition) made without return in money or other consideration.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘In the case of a voluntary disposition of a former business property, a taxpayer must acquire the replacement property before the end of the first taxation year.’

nounplural noun voluntaries

  • 1An organ solo played before, during, or after a church service.

    ‘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’
    • ‘The universal appeal of the majority of tunes and the simplicity of settings should help this collection find an audience among the ever-expanding number of organists looking for easy voluntaries on well-known hymn tunes.’
    1. 1.1 historical A piece of music performed extempore, especially as a prelude to other music, or composed in a free style.
      ‘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.’
      • ‘In the middle of the period are the splendid voluntaries, written by Henry Heron, John Keeble and William Russell.’
      overture, introductory movement, introduction, opening, voluntary
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  • 2(in a competition) a special performance left to the performer's choice.


Late Middle English from Old French volontaire or Latin voluntarius, from voluntas ‘will’.