Definition of voluntary adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈvɒləntri//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈvɑːlənteri//
    Describing jobs
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  1. 1done willingly, not because you are forced a voluntary agreement Attendance on the course is purely voluntary. to pay voluntary contributions into a pension fund (British English) He took voluntary redundancy. opposite compulsory
  2. 2[usually before noun] (of work) done by people who choose to do it without being paid I do some voluntary work at the local hospital. She works there on a voluntary basis. voluntary services/bodies/agencies/organizations (= organized, controlled or supported by people who choose to do this and are usually not paid) the voluntary sector (= organizations which are set up to help people and which do not make a profit, for example charities) Wordfinderadministrative, freelance, managerial, manual, part-time, seasonal, skilled, temporary, voluntary, work See related entries: Describing jobs
  3. 3[only before noun] (of a person) doing a job without wanting to be paid for it a voluntary worker
  4. 4(specialist) (of movements of the body) that you can control opposite involuntary
  5. Word Originlate Middle English: from Old French volontaire or Latin voluntarius, from voluntas ‘will’. Culturevoluntary workVoluntary work is work that you do not get paid for and usually involves doing things to help other people, especially the elderly or the sick, or working on behalf of a charity or similar organization. Most charitable organizations rely on unpaid volunteers, and thousands of Americans and British people give many hours of their time to doing some form of social work or organizing fund-raising events to support the work. Volunteering is especially popular in the US and the reasons for this may be found in basic American values such as the Protestant work ethic, the idea that work improves the person who does it, and the belief that people can change their condition if they try hard enough.Volunteering is usually enjoyable, as people choose jobs close to their personal interests. For instance, people who like animals may volunteer in an animal shelter, a place for animals which have been treated badly . Some voluntary work is short-term, e.g. when people from a community get together to create a park. Other work is longer term, such as that of the US organization Habitat for Humanity which builds houses for poor people. Parents often volunteer at their children's schools, and do things like building a play area or raising money for new equipment. Young people are also encouraged to do voluntary work. Schoolchildren visit old people in hospitals or homes, and students at college often raise money for charities. In the US young people over 18 can take part in AmeriCorps, a government programme that encourages them to work as volunteers for a period of time, with the promise of help in paying for their education later. Older Americans who do not work may spend much of their free time volunteering.In Britain a lot of voluntary work is directed towards supporting the country's social services. the Royal Voluntary Service and other organizations run a meals on wheels service in many parts of Britain, providing hot food for old people who are unable to cook for themselves. The nationwide Citizens Advice Bureau, which offers free advice to the public on a wide range of issues, is run mainly by volunteers, and the Blood Transfusion Service relies on voluntary blood donors to give blood for use in hospitals. Political parties use volunteers at election time, and Churches depend on volunteers to keep buildings clean.Both Britain and the US have organizations dedicated to helping people overseas. Britain's Voluntary Service Overseas sends people to work in developing countries for up to two years to share their skills with the local population. The US Peace Corps has similar aims and programmes.Extra examples Attendance at classes is purely voluntary. He took voluntary redundancy. Local residents can sign up for the voluntary scheme. Many people pay voluntary contributions into a pension fund. Much of the help is provided by the voluntary sector. She works there on a voluntary basis. The day centre is operated by a voluntary organization. The homeless hostel is staffed by voluntary workers.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: voluntary