Meaning of “voluntary” in the English Dictionary

"voluntary" in British English

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voluntaryadjective

uk /ˈvɒl.ən.tər.i/ us /ˈvɑː.lən.ter.i/

C1 done, made, or given willingly, without being forced or paid to do it:

She does voluntary work for the Red Cross two days a week.
They chose to take voluntary redundancy.
voluntary workers

A voluntary organization is controlled and supported by people who give their time and money to it without being paid, and that exists to help other people:

The hospital has asked various voluntary organizations to help raise money for the new operating theatre.
the voluntary sector

More examples

  • As a woman of independent means, she spent most of her life in voluntary work.
  • The union remains obdurate that any redundancies must be voluntary.
  • Most of our staff work for us on a voluntary basis .
  • She took voluntary redundancy.
  • Since retiring from the company, she has done voluntary work for a charity.
voluntarily
adverb uk /ˈvɒl.ən.trəl.i/ /ˌvɒl.ənˈteə.rəl.i/ us /ˈvɑː.lən.ter.əl.i/

(Definition of “voluntary” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"voluntary" in American English

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voluntaryadjective [ not gradable ]

us /ˈvɑl·ənˌter·i/

done, made, or given willingly, without being forced or paid to do it:

Employees can make voluntary contributions to the savings plan of up to 25% of their earnings.
Karyn leads after-school workshops that students attend on a voluntary basis.
voluntarily
adverb us /ˌvɑl·ənˈteər·ə·li/

She voluntarily gave up her lunch break to supervise the lab.

(Definition of “voluntary” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"voluntary" in Business English

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voluntaryadjective

uk /ˈvɒləntəri/ us

done, made, or given without being forced or paid:

Currently, recall of products is voluntary.
Any staff reductions will be made on a voluntary basis.
voluntary service/work She does voluntary work in several hospitals.

used to describe an organization that is supported by people who give their time and money to it without being paid, and that exists to help other people:

He works in the voluntary sector.
voluntarily
adverb

Did she leave voluntarily?

(Definition of “voluntary” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)