A lot vs. Alot: 9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[vol-uh n-teer] /ˌvɒl ənˈtɪər/
a person who voluntarily offers himself or herself for a service or undertaking.
a person who performs a service willingly and without pay.
Military. a person who enters the service voluntarily rather than through conscription or draft, especially for special or temporary service rather than as a member of the regular or permanent army.
  1. a person whose actions are not founded on any legal obligation so to act.
  2. a person who intrudes into a matter that does not concern him or her, as a person who pays the debt of another where he or she is neither legally nor morally bound to do so and has no interest to protect in making the payment.
Agriculture. a volunteer plant.
(initial capital letter) a native or inhabitant of Tennessee (used as a nickname).
of, relating to, or being a volunteer or volunteers:
a volunteer fireman.
Agriculture. growing without being seeded, planted, or cultivated by a person; springing up spontaneously.
verb (used without object)
to offer oneself for some service or undertaking.
to enter service or enlist as a volunteer.
verb (used with object)
to offer (oneself or one's services) for some undertaking or purpose.
to give, bestow, or perform voluntarily:
to volunteer a song.
to say, tell, or communicate voluntarily:
to volunteer an explanation.
1590-1600; < French volontaire < Latin voluntārius voluntary, with -eer for French -aire
Related forms
prevolunteer, noun, verb
unvolunteering, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for volunteers
  • Which means you don't deadhead them and end up with lots of volunteers.
  • Yes, this giant, lush hedge of tomato plants are all volunteers.
  • volunteers and magazine staffers bring around the wines- six bottles to a flight-and the tasters go to work.
  • It's not only scientists who are at work: volunteers-locals and even tourists-can sign on to help for a day or a decade.
  • Happier still, after volunteers ate the wings they reported no difference in appearance or taste of the bamboo-enhanced recipe.
  • Much of the maintenance is augmented by retired volunteers.
  • The teachers will be volunteers, the courses will cost next to nothing, and no official credit will be given.
  • Brigades of volunteers with brooms, shovels, and rakes were dispatched in the clean-up effort.
  • Finally, ask for volunteers to share details from their discussions.
  • They employ shockingly few people, and many rely heavily on volunteers.
British Dictionary definitions for volunteers


  1. a person who performs or offers to perform voluntary service
  2. (as modifier): a volunteer system, volunteer advice
a person who freely undertakes military service, esp temporary or special service
  1. a person who does some act or enters into a transaction without being under any legal obligation to do so and without being promised any remuneration for his services
  2. (property law) a person to whom property is transferred without his giving any valuable consideration in return, as a legatee under a will
  1. a plant that grows from seed that has not been deliberately sown
  2. (as modifier): a volunteer plant
to offer (oneself or one's services) for an undertaking by choice and without request or obligation
(transitive) to perform, give, or communicate voluntarily: to volunteer help, to volunteer a speech
(intransitive) to enlist voluntarily for military service
Word Origin
C17: from French volontaire, from Latin voluntārius willing; see voluntary
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for volunteers



c.1600, "one who offers himself for military service," from Middle French voluntaire, noun use of adj. meaning "voluntary," from Latin voluntarius "voluntary, of one's free will" (see voluntary). Non-military sense is first recorded 1630s. The verb is first recorded 1755, from the noun. Tennessee has been the Volunteer State since the Mexican War, when a call for 2,800 volunteers brought out 30,000 men.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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