[ vol-uh-tl, -til or, esp. British, -tahyl ]
/ ˈvɒl ə tl, -tɪl or, esp. British, -ˌtaɪl /



a volatile substance, as a gas or solvent.

Origin of volatile

1250–1300; Middle English < Latin volātilis, equivalent to volāt(us) (past participle of volāre to fly; see -ate1) + -ilis -ile

Related forms

vol·a·til·i·ty [vol-uh-til-i-tee] /ˌvɒl əˈtɪl ɪ ti/, vol·a·tile·ness, nounnon·vol·a·til·i·ty, nounsem·i·vol·a·tile, adjectiveun·vol·a·tile, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for volatile

British Dictionary definitions for volatile


/ (ˈvɒləˌtaɪl) /



a volatile substance
rare a winged creature

Derived Forms

volatileness or volatility (ˌvɒləˈtɪlɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for volatile

C17: from Latin volātīlis flying, from volāre to fly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Medicine definitions for volatile


[ vŏlə-tl, -tīl′ ]


Evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures.
That can be readily vaporized.
Tending to violence; explosive, as of behavior.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for volatile


[ vŏlə-tl ]

Changing easily from liquid to vapor at normal temperatures and pressures. Essential oils used in perfumes are highly volatile.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.