from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures.
  • adjective Capable of being readily vaporized.
  • adjective Tending to vary often or widely, as in price.
  • adjective Inconstant; fickle.
  • adjective Lighthearted; flighty.
  • adjective Ephemeral; fleeting.
  • adjective Tending to violence; explosive.
  • adjective Flying or capable of flying; volant.
  • adjective Computers Of or relating to memory whose data is erased when the memory's power is interrupted.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Having the power of being readily converted into gas or vapor. Sometimes applied, in chemistry, to those constituents, or that portion, of a substance which is driven off by heating at a specified temperature.
  • Flying, or able to fly; having the power of flight; volant; volitant.
  • Having the quality of taking flight or passing off by spontaneous evaporation; evaporating rapidly; becoming diffused more or less freely in the atmosphere.
  • Lively; brisk; gay; full of spirit; airy; hence, fickle; apt to change: as, a volatile disposition.
  • Transient; not permanent; not lasting.
  • noun A winged creature, as a bird or butterfly.
  • noun Wild fowl collectively.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete A winged animal; wild fowl; game.
  • adjective obsolete Passing through the air on wings, or by the buoyant force of the atmosphere; flying; having the power to fly.
  • adjective Capable of wasting away, or of easily passing into the aëriform state; subject to evaporation.
  • adjective Fig.: Light-hearted; easily affected by circumstances; airy; lively; hence, changeable; fickle.
  • adjective (Old Chem.) See under Alkali.
  • adjective a liniment composed of sweet oil and ammonia, so called from the readiness with which the latter evaporates.
  • adjective (Chem.) See Essential oils, under Essential.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective physics evaporating or vaporizing readily under normal conditions.
  • adjective of a substance, informal explosive.
  • adjective of a price, etc. variable or erratic.
  • adjective of a person quick to become angry or violent.
  • adjective fickle.
  • adjective temporary or ephemeral.
  • adjective of a situation potentially violent.
  • adjective computing, of a variable having its associated memory immediately updated with any changes in value.
  • adjective computing whose content is lost when the computer is powered down

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

  • adjective tending to vary often or widely
  • adjective liable to lead to sudden change or violence
  • adjective marked by erratic changeableness in affections or attachments
  • noun a volatile substance; a substance that changes readily from solid or liquid to a vapor
  • adjective evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures


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

[French, from Old French, from Latin volātilis, flying, from volātus, past participle of volāre, to fly.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin volātilis ("flying; swift; temporary; volatile"), from volō ("I fly").


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