- 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 volatility
Volatility of reputation and subjectivity of quality make it difficult to define the novel in terms of absolute excellence.The Birth of the Novel
November 27, 2014
To be fair, there are nonpartisan, academic roots to the vision of the Cold War as a model of stability, not volatility.Rick Perry: America’s Next Top Strategist?
September 20, 2014
I loved the volatility to his reaction and the deception, and then her walking away with the security guards to the elevator.Julianna Margulies's Favorite 'The Good Wife' Scenes
August 11, 2014
He fears, especially, the volatility of it all: the checkpoints, the nearby Israeli settlements, and the bombings.A Camp Away From Terror: Where Israeli and Palestinian Kids Find Common Ground
August 4, 2014
But given the volatility of the last week, how long will that last?Republican Debt-Ceiling ‘Truthers’ Are Risking Financial Disaster
October 8, 2013
She was no more appalled by the loss than by the perception of her own volatility.The Letter of the Contract
He is no more chargeable with volatility than society itself.
She wanted much of the gaiety, but with it the volatility of her younger sister.The Purcell Papers
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu
Their control in this way intimated a volatility which was not perceptible in their sentiment.The March Family Trilogy, Complete
William Dean Howells
Free acetic acid reddens litmus paper, like the other acids; and may be readily recognised by its odour and volatility:—2.
- (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 volatility
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.