from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Acting or done without or against one's will: an involuntary participant in what turned out to be an argument.
  • adj. Not subject to control of the volition: gave an involuntary start. See Synonyms at spontaneous.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Without intention; unintentional.
  • adj. Not voluntary or willing; contrary or opposed to explicit will or desire; unwilling.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Not having will or the power of choice.
  • adj. Not under the influence or control of the will; not voluntary
  • adj. Not proceeding from choice; done unwillingly; reluctant; compulsory.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Not voluntary or willing; contrary or opposed to will or desire; unwilling; unintentional: as, involuntary submission; an involuntary listener.
  • Not voluntary or willed; independent of volition or consenting action of the mind; without the agency of the will: as, involuntary muscular action; an involuntary groan.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. not subject to the control of the will
  • adj. controlled by the autonomic nervous system; without conscious control


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From in- +‎ voluntary, from Late Latin involontarius, from in + volontarius.


  • "I'd never heard of the term 'involuntary resignation,' " said Committeeman Mike DeBlasi, who recalled "several occurrences" in the past year in which the quality of the school's Human Resources Department's work was called into question.

    All Stories

  • Gaskell has used the term involuntary nervous system.

    IX. Neurology. 7. The Sympathetic Nerves

  • [Sidenote: 1111a] Again, we do not usually apply the term involuntary when a man is ignorant of his own true interest; because ignorance which affects moral choice constitutes depravity but not involuntariness: nor does any ignorance of principle (because for this men are blamed) but ignorance in particular details, wherein consists the action and wherewith it is concerned, for in these there is both compassion and allowance, because he who acts in ignorance of any of them acts in a proper sense involuntarily.


  • After all, the line between voluntary and involuntary is very different in the military than in the civilian world.

    The Volokh Conspiracy » Guns and Mental Illness

  • His pleadings usually culminated in involuntary raving, until it seemed to her that he was passing into a fit; but always she shook her head and denied him the freedom for which he worked himself into a passion.


  • But we free marketeers don't believe in involuntary unemployment compensation. and my children are beating up your kids to steal lunch money because I couldn't afford to feed them.

    Math and Economics, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

  • I wonder what the difference in involuntary reactions is. datingjesus

    Check this out « Dating Jesus

  • Accidental homicide is often called involuntary manslaughter, for which one can serve time.

    (Very) Basic Economics and Abortion

  • He grants that St. Augustine would not term involuntary desires sin; then he adds, "We, on the contrary, deem it to be sin whenever a man feels any desires forbidden by Divine law -- and we assert the depravity to be sin which produces them" (Institutes, III, 2, 10).

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 3: Brownson-Clairvaux

  • In return for this attitude on her part – which, if voluntary, would be really chivalrous, but being involuntary is merely servile – man undertakes to regulate his conduct towards her by certain particular forms of outward deference.

    Marriage as a Trade


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.