Did you know?

Click any word in a definition or example to find the entry for that word

voluntary - definition and synonyms

What are red words?

90% of the time, speakers of English use just 7,500 words in speech and writing. These words appear in red, and are graded with stars. One-star words are frequent, two-star words are more frequent, and three-star words are the most frequent.

Thesaurus diagram

The thesaurus of synonyms and related words is fully integrated into the dictionary. Click on the thesaurus category heading under the button in an entry to see the synonyms and related words for that meaning.

adjective     voluntary pronunciation in American English
  1. 1
    a voluntary action is done because you choose to do it, and not because you have to

    The advertising of alcoholic drinks is regulated by a voluntary code.

  2. 2
    voluntary work is done for no pay

    My job at the hospital is purely voluntary.

    on a voluntary basis (=without being paid):

    All the teachers work on a voluntary basis.

    1. a.
      a voluntary worker receives no pay. Another word for a person who works for no pay is a volunteer.
  3. 3
    biology a voluntary movement or decision is controlled by the person who makes it
  4. 4
    a voluntary organization does important work for the community but is not part of the official government services, and usually has to raise all its money by itself

    the voluntary sector

derived word


     voluntarily pronunciation in American English
/ˌvɑlənˈterəli/ adverb

Did he do it voluntarily, or did you make him?

  • Facebook
  • Twitter


to manipulate someone psychologically so that they begin to question their own perceptions and memories

BuzzWord Article

Open Dictionary

Dunning-Kruger effect

the phenomenon by which an incompetent person is too incompetent to understand his own incompetence

add a word


A must for anyone with an interest in the changing face of language. The Macmillan Dictionary blog explores English as it is spoken around the world today.

global English and language change from our blog
Macmillan learn live love play