Medical Definition of Involuntary

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Involuntary: Done other than in accordance with the conscious will of the individual. The opposite of voluntary.

The terms "voluntary" and "involuntary" apply to the human nervous system and its control over muscles. The nervous system is divided into two parts -- somatic and autonomic. The somatic nervous system operates muscles that are under voluntary control. The autonomic (automatic or visceral) nervous system regulates individual organ function and is involuntary. Opening the mouth is voluntary while blushing is involuntary.

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Reviewed on 12/11/2018

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