Definition of volunteer in English:

volunteer

noun

  • 1A person who freely offers to take part in an enterprise or undertake a task:

    ‘a call for volunteers to act as foster-parents’
    • ‘A number of volunteers agreed to act as stewards.’
    • ‘Matt was one of the volunteers who offered to go get food.’
    • ‘It will be strictly not for profit and much of the renovation work will be undertaken by volunteers.’
    • ‘We have been flooded with volunteers offering to help do whatever it takes to keep bus services running.’
    • ‘The teachers are volunteers who have offered their expertise to the project as way of helping the community.’
    • ‘There has been no shortage of volunteers willing to move homes at RAAF Base Tindal lately.’
    • ‘The researchers asked 29 healthy male volunteers aged between 21 and 35 to take part in an experiment.’
    • ‘The department had earlier trained and employed student volunteers for the task to cut costs.’
    • ‘It takes the help of many volunteers to make this event possible and we are in need of volunteers for all tasks.’
    • ‘I need a volunteer to act as a subject in a photography experiment that I'm planning.’
    • ‘I'm contacting the Australian volunteers who formerly offered to take part in a test, and we'll keep you informed via this web page.’
    • ‘Most of the work restoring the canals has been undertaken by volunteers.’
    • ‘The student volunteers performed tasks on a microcomputer so that their cognitive function could be measured.’
    • ‘It was a major task for all volunteers and all concerned and everyone can feel proud now the event has passed into history.’
    • ‘We will require a few willing volunteers to help us with this major initiative.’
    • ‘The volunteers were prepared to offer advice to local farmers and landowners on tree planting schemes as well as local schools.’
    • ‘Last weekend volunteers undertook the painstaking task of cutting the grass around the base of each stone with scissors, in preparation for the restoration work.’
    • ‘Unfortunately in hurling, team officials are burdened with the extra task of finding volunteers as umpires and linesmen for almost all games.’
    • ‘For my next trick, I'll need a volunteer from the audience.’
    • ‘Around 1,000 students act as volunteers in the local community, working in schools, sports clubs and community groups.’
    subject, participant, case, client, patient
    guinea pig
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person who freely enrols for military service rather than being conscripted, especially a member of a force formed by voluntary enrolment and distinct from the regular army.
      • ‘The intent is to use reserve component volunteers and forces not recently mobilized to balance deployment stresses across the force.’
      • ‘U.S. volunteers rather than regulars provided the main military force this time.’
      • ‘Remember the old soldiering wish for volunteers rather than conscripts.’
      • ‘Magistrates and constables did what they could to contain and disperse disorderly crowds, but troops were often called in: regular army soldiers, militiamen or volunteer forces.’
      • ‘This explains the seeming paradox of why we have a lower acceptance of combat casualties with a volunteer military than we had with a draft Army.’
      • ‘Most of the deployed team members are volunteers and have infantry or combat arms experience.’
      • ‘In an all-volunteer army buttressed by a volunteer reserve, soldiers don't fight simply for abstractions.’
      • ‘Present and past Army volunteers with veteran military vehicles will also be in the parade, which will start at 11 am.’
      • ‘Is it a conscript force, volunteer military, or blend?’
      • ‘The success of any campaign to induce volunteers or force conscripts into an army will be decided, to a large extent, by circumstances.’
      • ‘Additionally, a large number of volunteers and inactive Army Reserve soldiers have stepped forward and offered to serve.’
      • ‘All it would authorize was a volunteer army, whose members never reached a quarter of those required.’
      • ‘There may yet be a decline in volunteers, and the army is paying close attention to recruiting efforts in order to detect any problems early, so they can try and counter them.’
      • ‘A former congressional staffer stands by to emphasize the vital difference between an army of volunteers and an armed militia.’
      • ‘Australia has a volunteer army reserve but no national service requirement.’
      • ‘Only if the military could recruit enough volunteers would the three-month service term become feasible.’
      • ‘These forces, consisting mostly of state militiamen, volunteers, and conscripts, endured heavy casualties.’
      • ‘The soldiers are a mix of those who served in the old army and new volunteers.’
      • ‘In addition, the mobilization of the nation's reserve forces only include retired conscripts rather than retired volunteers.’
      • ‘The U.S. Army welcomed volunteers and paid privates $21 a month.’
    2. 1.2 A plant that has not been deliberately planted.
      • ‘The planting of cover crops or allowing volunteer plants to grow is becoming more common.’
      • ‘Besides the mother tree, there's a productive volunteer seedling nearby.’
      • ‘If you let the flowers go to seed, you will have volunteer plants next spring.’
      • ‘It is possible to transplant any small volunteers by digging them up when they're quite small.’
      • ‘In 1999, sorghum planted in a field with widely scattered volunteer wheat plants was heavily damaged by chinch bugs.’
  • 2A person who works for an organization without being paid:

    ‘the railway is operated solely by volunteers’
    • ‘The club is run by volunteers who donate their time and their money to look out for these gentle animals.’
    • ‘Last year the eight paid staff and 18 volunteers handled more than 50,000 inquiries.’
    • ‘But as with any organisation that relies on volunteers for the majority of its effort, it is sometimes incredibly difficult to actually get things done.’
    • ‘Angel Community Radio is staffed entirely by volunteers, with 60 per cent aged over 60.’
    • ‘Maybe it should take a lesson from the clubs and groups on campus that don't need to collect all this money from students, operate with only volunteers and ask speakers to volunteer as well.’
    • ‘Hospitals, places of worship, museums, community centers and other organizations often need volunteers.’
    • ‘The organization relies on volunteers to not only work behind the scenes in the office, but to also pick up a hammer and lend a helping hand in the actual construction of the homes.’
    • ‘The Bradford branch's five charity shops could not function without the volunteers who support the paid staff.’
    • ‘What started out as bar talk ended up becoming an organization with 4,000 volunteers.’
    • ‘It provides training in childcare to volunteers who join the organisation and has opened up a new career for many lower-middle class youngsters.’
    • ‘He insists they are not employees, but unpaid volunteers recruited by the Universal Music and Video Distribution Group.’
    • ‘So far the organization's 155 trained volunteers have saved 600 of the city's animals.’
    • ‘The group is comprised of both volunteers and paid staff.’
    • ‘The Scottish Ambulance Service will train unpaid volunteers in rural Scotland in emergency medical techniques.’
    • ‘When the High Street store first opened it was staffed entirely by volunteers.’
    • ‘The organization relies on volunteers to pick up donations, unpack donations, pack hampers and work in the food bank on Wednesdays.’
    • ‘We are an organization of civilian volunteers and cannot get relief aid into any location until the local authorities say it is safe and provide us with security and access.’
    • ‘Started in 1997, the organization is staffed solely by volunteers.’
    • ‘Besides Hammond, there are three project assistants and many dedicated volunteers.’
    • ‘She says she works harder in retirement as a volunteer than in the paid workforce.’
    1. 2.1Law A person to whom a voluntary conveyance or disposition is made.
      • ‘Does a religious objection to duty amount to a belief, and does an unwillingness by a volunteer to respond to recall amount to a manifestation of that belief?’
      • ‘By that, we say it refers to a situation where, because of a family connection, there is trust and where a family member is prepared to do something when there is nothing in it for him where he is in equity purely a volunteer.’
      • ‘It similarly binds Mr. Murphy's children who are volunteers.’
      • ‘Here one has, on the evidence as I understand it, a volunteer who might well be inferred to have notice.’

verb

  • 1[no object] Freely offer to do something:

    ‘140 employees volunteered for redundancy’
    [with infinitive] ‘I rashly volunteered to be a contestant’
    • ‘Alex, after he had found out that I had gotten no other offers, had volunteered to stay home with me and hang out.’
    • ‘Then, in September 2000, a team of fed-up employees volunteered to find a fix.’
    • ‘You can also offer your support by volunteering on race day.’
    • ‘They were employees who volunteered to work overnight and at weekends handling emergencies.’
    • ‘Last week I gave her credit for actually volunteering to take this job.’
    • ‘Now he will take jobs only within a 50-mile radius of his Atlanta headquarters - unless employees volunteer to staff a more distant site.’
    • ‘The future of about 60 people who'd volunteered to take redundancy hung in the balance.’
    • ‘Some employees volunteered to sleep on office and shop house floors in order to be available for work the next day.’
    • ‘And truth be told, we got ourselves a three page single spaced list of folks volunteering for that job.’
    • ‘In the past, volunteering at work meant offering to make tea or organize the Secret Santa round of mystery gifts at Christmas.’
    • ‘Employees who volunteer for the vaccination must be authorized by their employers.’
    • ‘He said that he had volunteered to do these jobs as he wished to learn everything associated with films.’
    • ‘Some employees have volunteered to help in areas across the airport - from office-based computer staff to the duty manager of a terminal.’
    • ‘The father volunteered for redundancy and later he and his sons decided that the company should cease trading.’
    • ‘Other reasons an employee may volunteer to work may include the desire for overtime hours or wanting to be home during the days after the storm when schools are closed and cleanup begins.’
    • ‘They were both dismissed on 31st March 1997, having volunteered for redundancy following a re-organisation.’
    • ‘Three employees volunteered to stay behind, and they worked long hours.’
    • ‘He volunteered to get information and turn it over.’
    • ‘But these men and women freely volunteered to do what they did, and they were paid, and paid well, for it.’
    • ‘The store's employees volunteer to teach Hunter Safety Education classes and provide safety training.’
    1. 1.1[with object] Offer (help) freely:
      ‘he volunteered his services as a driver for the convoy’
      • ‘Also important is the provision of optical and dental care and many of the city's opticians and dentists volunteer their services free to help the children.’
      • ‘Many local opticians and dentists volunteered their services to help the children.’
      • ‘Others blame the neighbors who failed to volunteer their help in raising and home-schooling five small children.’
      • ‘I appeal to residents on the approach roads into the town to volunteer their help at least one night a week.’
      • ‘She quickly snatched up her son and took him down to the bombproof shelter, then volunteered her services to help the wounded men, whose numbers were multiplying by the hour.’
      • ‘A couple of times each year I volunteer my help on one of these trips, and always leave feeling like I have put one over on someone.’
      • ‘Today, the committee has 30 drivers who volunteer their help for the meals-on-wheels service.’
      • ‘Some people have volunteered their help, starting by learning sign language.’
      • ‘If you are a carpenter in the Sacred Heart Parish and can volunteer your time freely please call into the centre any Tuesday night from 7.30 pm- 9pm.’
      • ‘She thanked everyone for their help during the year, particularly the dedicated ladies who volunteer their services on a weekly basis and keep all systems running smoothly.’
      • ‘Instead of going back to the hotel, I called the newsroom and volunteered my services.’
      • ‘Many thanks also to all who volunteered help during the year both in fundraising and other areas.’
      • ‘The trust is holding a meeting for supporters on April 28 to encourage them to volunteer their help to run the centre.’
      • ‘When I am back ‘up to speed’ I will certainly be the first to volunteer my help, to get this project off the ground.’
      • ‘Everyone involved had volunteered their time and service and a big thank you goes to them and to everyone who donated and helped in every way to make this appeal such a success.’
      • ‘Other messages were from good samaritans eager to volunteer aid.’
      • ‘To earn a bronze star youngsters have to volunteer their services to help the community.’
      • ‘But other southern states volunteering help, like Arkansas and Alabama, are not much better-off than their neighbours.’
      • ‘Work is being co-ordinated by a professional charity fund-raising manager, who has kindly volunteered his services.’
      • ‘There is a great sense of achievement to be had from being involved in the event and that is why so many people continue to volunteer their help.’
      offer, tender, proffer, present, put forward, put up, venture
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2[reporting verb] Say or suggest something without being asked:
      [with object] ‘it never paid to volunteer information’
      [with direct speech] ‘‘Her name's Louise,’ Christina volunteered’
      • ‘Fortunately, the conversation moved on, and I avoided volunteering any information on the subject.’
      • ‘You just can't imagine volunteering the information that would kill your friends.’
      • ‘But nobody volunteers that kind of information to tourists.’
      • ‘Near the end of the session, Anna disturbed me by volunteering information about her new relationship with Martin.’
      • ‘Only British Telecom volunteered the information that in the past year, 61 out of 108,000 employees had been sacked for that type of misconduct.’
      • ‘They both have given plausible reasons as to why they did not volunteer that information to the police.’
      • ‘I resist the temptation to ask who was on the phone, but she volunteers the information.’
      • ‘In each of the sections space was incorporated to allow to participants to volunteer additional information.’
      • ‘It has been gratifying to observe staff volunteering information on incidents involving medical devices, rather than simply trying to hide the event.’
      • ‘Bob felt odd volunteering information, but it was necessary.’
      • ‘Many made no attempt to hide their Jewish background, and some attended the island government offices to volunteer information on their grandparents' ethnicity.’
      • ‘What about the problem of silence in order to allow the accused to volunteer information, which is a very common technique of interrogation?’
      • ‘Some even volunteered information about corruption, politics and inter-ministerial rivalries.’
      • ‘He pressed on, but his mother wasn't volunteering any information, that much was evident.’
      • ‘It was only after much persuasion after the conference that she volunteered some information.’
      • ‘Today detectives were shifting through information volunteered from the public following a witness appeal.’
      • ‘Don't expect young people to volunteer such information.’
      • ‘His friends volunteered the information that he likes holidays and wants to be a rally driver.’
      • ‘He looked at her expectantly but she didn't volunteer any more information.’
      • ‘Instead, I allowed the witnesses to volunteer any information, impressions or feelings they had about the event and kept my eyes open.’
      suggest, submit, advance, propose, venture, put forward, moot, propound, posit, air, hazard, say, declare, observe, comment, remark
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3[with object] Commit (someone) to a particular undertaking, typically without consulting them:
      ‘he was volunteered for parachute training by friends’
      • ‘My pal Andy and I were volunteered to accompany her to England.’
      • ‘It was about 7 PM and my family had volunteered me to go collect dinner from a nearby restaurant.’
      • ‘Discovering I've got safety boat duty tomorrow, cos my brother opted out and volunteered me.’
      • ‘Would you volunteer your client to give another series of polygraph tests with the Justice Department now?’
      • ‘He was a 19-year-old rifleman in Northern Ireland when he was volunteered to take part in what he thought was common cold research.’
      • ‘How on earth was she going to tell her mom that she'd volunteered her to pick Ryan up?’
      • ‘It was not until his teacher volunteered him to join the choir that his talent was discovered.’
      • ‘I mention this now because Girlfriend has volunteered me to give Charlie a lift to Birmingham tomorrow evening, to pick up her repaired bike from a breakdown which happened last Wednesday.’
      • ‘Tom grabbed my wrist and raised my arm up as to volunteer me.’
      • ‘I still don't know when I should tell him that I also volunteered him for possible race caravan duty.’
      • ‘The old man has something he wants done in San Francisco, and I've volunteered you.’
      • ‘Jess, remind me to never ever let you volunteer us for anything ever again, okay?’
      • ‘Lucky for me, we had an odd number of students in that class, and she always volunteered me to share with her.’
      • ‘When an official came to the door and asked if anyone wanted to box, my brother volunteered me.’
      • ‘We fishermen had a small role to play; in addition to tagging our catches, Dan had volunteered us as fish herders.’
      • ‘She doesn't know it yet, but that's why it's going to be such a nice surprise when I volunteer her.’
      • ‘Pete was volunteered to do the rigging, and was soon edging his way out on the rather vague ledges.’
      • ‘Everyone seems to be having a fight and somewhere in the middle of all this, I was volunteered to fix everything.’
      • ‘However, she says she would be ready to volunteer him to be fitted with a tag if she discovered he was causing more trouble than he admitted.’
      • ‘But dad volunteered me because they needed another kid to take part.’
  • 2[no object] Work for an organization without being paid:

    ‘volunteering is an easy way to get involved in practical conservation’
    • ‘This made it easy for her to volunteer in the Children's Ward.’
    • ‘As the new head of the advisory council, he plans to revive the center, where's he's volunteered for more than 20 years.’
    • ‘Outside of work, he's volunteered with a number of local environmental and resource management committees.’
    • ‘People are put off volunteering, he suggests, because of the increasing fear of litigation and frustration with the associated red tape.’
    • ‘Sixty per cent of participants have never volunteered before and evidence suggests that many will continue to volunteer in the future.’
    • ‘He was actively involved in volunteering for various non-profit organizations, which primarily serve the minority population.’
    • ‘If you're into community service, I am sure there are several service groups or community organizations to volunteer with.’
    • ‘The opening message should be interesting enough to entice the potential volunteer to consider volunteering for the organization.’
    • ‘Immigrants' limited involvement revolves around volunteering for civic organizations.’
    • ‘Unlike older adults, very few volunteered through religious organizations.’
    • ‘Summer can be an opportunity to work in summer schools or to volunteer in summer camps organizing different programs for children.’
    • ‘They felt that other volunteering organizations limited themselves to just members who either paid member dues or to certain communities.’
    • ‘When asked what led them to volunteer, more than two-thirds of those with children told us they volunteer for organizations that serve family members.’
    • ‘The organizers expect responsible, cooperative participants who will volunteer at least one hour of time to the Fair and the community.’
    • ‘You could volunteer with a literacy organization and help teach people to read, or visit the local children's hospital and bring them gifts or just spend time with them.’
    • ‘So if a volunteer is sued while volunteering for an unincorporated organisation, they won't be protected.’
    • ‘Below is a partial list of members who are giving their time and expertise to various community organizations-some of whom are volunteering for more than one group.’
    • ‘One of the women who volunteer at my pregnancy center herself became pregnant.’
    • ‘One of the best ways to get involved with AIDS action is simply to pick among the many AIDS organizations in the city and begin volunteering.’
    • ‘We could do with ten people to volunteer a couple of hours of their time over the next fortnight.’
    offer one's services, present oneself, step forward, come forward, make oneself available
    View synonyms

Origin

Late 16th century (as a noun, with military reference): from French volontaire voluntary. The change in the ending was due to association with -eer.

Pronunciation:

volunteer

/ˌvɒlənˈtɪə/