Meaning of “volunteer” in the English Dictionary

"volunteer" in British English

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volunteernoun [ C ]

uk /ˌvɒl.ənˈtɪər/ us /ˌvɑː.lənˈtɪr/

B2 a person who does something, especially helping other people, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it:

The Health clinic is relying on volunteers to run the office and answer the phones.
Since it would be a highly dangerous mission, the Lieutenant asked for volunteers.
It's a volunteer army with no paid professionals.
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More examples

  • As a volunteer on the childcare project, I really saw life.
  • He emphasized that all the people taking part in the research were volunteers.
  • We're saving money by using volunteers.
  • She placed her name on the list of volunteers.
  • Charities such as Oxfam are always trying to recruit volunteers to help in their work.

volunteerverb

uk /ˌvɒl.ənˈtɪər/ us /ˌvɑː.lənˈtɪr/

C1 [ I or T ] to offer to do something that you do not have to do, often without having been asked to do it and/or without expecting payment:

[ + to infinitive ] During the emergency many staff volunteered to work through the weekend.
He volunteered for the army (= he joined even though he did not have to).
I volunteered myself for the position of Health and Safety Representative.
humorous My friends volunteered me to do the talking.

[ T ] to give information without being asked:

If I were you, I wouldn't volunteer any details of what happened.
[ + speech ] "I saw her going out of the main entrance half an hour ago," he volunteered.

More examples

  • You can accuse me of cowardice, but I still wouldn't volunteer to fight in a war.
  • I volunteered to do the washing up.
  • Many women volunteered to work as nurses in the war.
  • Did anybody volunteer to tidy up?
  • They all volunteered to help with the digging.

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

"volunteer" in American English

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volunteernoun [ C ]

us /ˌvɑl·ənˈtɪr/

a person who does something, esp. for other people or for an organization, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it:

The charity relies on volunteers to run the office and answer the phones.

volunteerverb [ I/T ]

us /ˌvɑl·ənˈtɪər/

to do something, esp. for other people or for an organization, willingly and without being forced or paid to do it:

[ + to infinitive ] During the emergency a lot of people volunteered to work through the night.
[ T ] Three physicians volunteered their services.

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

"volunteer" in Business English

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volunteernoun [ C ]

uk /ˌvɒlənˈtɪər/ us

a person who does a job or some work without being paid or forced to do it:

They employ 1,000 people and 23,000 volunteers.
I will ask for volunteers to help with the search.

volunteerverb [ I or T ]

uk /ˌvɒlənˈtɪər/ us

to offer to do something without being paid for it or without being asked to do it:

If they're short of helpers, I could volunteer.
volunteer to do sth I volunteered to do the accounting.
volunteer for sth He volunteered for early retirement.
volunteer sb for/to do sth He volunteered his wife for the job.
More residents need to step forward and volunteer time and energy.

volunteeradjective

uk /ˌvɒlənˈtɪər/ us

used to describe someone who works without expecting payment, or the work they do:

volunteer staff/workers
a volunteer doctor/firefighter/lawyer The legal advice centres are staffed by volunteer lawyers.
Her volunteer work took up most of her free time.
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(Definition of “volunteer” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)