- evaporating rapidly; passing off readily in the form of vapor: Acetone is a volatile solvent.
- tending or threatening to break out into open violence; explosive: a volatile political situation.
- changeable; mercurial; flighty: a volatile disposition.
- (of prices, values, etc.) tending to fluctuate sharply and regularly: volatile market conditions.
- fleeting; transient: volatile beauty.
- Computers. of or relating to storage that does not retain data when electrical power is turned off or fails.
- able to fly or flying.
- a volatile substance, as a gas or solvent.
Origin of volatile
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for volatile
Visibly affected the by military atmosphere the young man admitted his emotions were volatile.Hunt for Iraq Vet After Killing Spree
December 16, 2014
Pryor had yet to become the volatile social satirist who unnerved white industry executives and delighted black audiences.How Richard Pryor Beat Bill Cosby and Transformed America
David Yaffe, Scott Saul
December 10, 2014
But politics are volatile in Ukraine and Opposition Bloc is pushing hard.Ukraine’s Elections: The Battle of the Billionaires
October 26, 2014
In the volatile southern province of Kandahar, for instance, an innovative school for teenage girls will soon close its doors.The West Made Lots of Promises to Afghan Girls, Now It’s Breaking Them
October 20, 2014
Living as they do in the heart of the volatile Caucasus, Georgians are only too aware of the fires that surround them.ISIS on Georgia’s Mind
September 26, 2014
I dare say he had fancied her ladyship as keenly as one of his volatile nature might.Ruggles of Red Gap
Harry Leon Wilson
Some are warm, but volatile and inconstant; he was warm too, but steady and unchangeable.Beaux and Belles of England
Sam was volatile and elusive; his industry of an erratic kind.Mark Twain, A Biography, 1835-1910, Complete
Albert Bigelow Paine
She is young, volatile, capricious, but generous142 as the day.The Old Countess; or, The Two Proposals
Ann S. Stephens
These people had the blood of the nomad and the volatile in their veins.Policing the Plains
- (of a substance) capable of readily changing from a solid or liquid form to a vapour; having a high vapour pressure and a low boiling point
- (of persons) disposed to caprice or inconstancy; fickle; mercurial
- (of circumstances) liable to sudden, unpredictable, or explosive change
- lasting only a short timevolatile business interests
- computing (of a memory) not retaining stored information when the power supply is cut off
- obsolete flying or capable of flight; volant
- a volatile substance
- rare a winged creature
Word Origin and History for volatile
1590s "fine or light," also "evaporating rapidly" (c.1600), from Middle French volatile, from Latin volatilis "fleeting, transitory, flying," from past participle stem of volare "to fly" (see volant). Sense of "readily changing, fickle" is first recorded 1640s. Volatiles in Middle English meant "birds, butterflies, and other winged creatures" (c.1300).
- Evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures.
- That can be readily vaporized.
- Tending to violence; explosive, as of behavior.
- Changing easily from liquid to vapor at normal temperatures and pressures. Essential oils used in perfumes are highly volatile.