See more synonyms for volcano on Thesaurus.com
noun, plural vol·ca·noes, vol·ca·nos.
  1. a vent in the earth's crust through which lava, steam, ashes, etc., are expelled, either continuously or at irregular intervals.
  2. a mountain or hill, usually having a cuplike crater at the summit, formed around such a vent from the ash and lava expelled through it.

Origin of volcano

1605–15; < Italian < Latin Volcānus, variant of Vulcānus Vulcan
Can be confusedcaldera fumarole geyser volcano
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for volcano

Contemporary Examples of volcano

Historical Examples of volcano

  • Had some thief stolen them and hidden here, only to be caught by the volcano?

  • A shower of red-hot stones warned him that he was near the volcano.

    Classic Myths

    Mary Catherine Judd

  • The witness started as though a volcano had burst at her feet.

    The First Violin

    Jessie Fothergill

  • As before, the valley yawned like the living threat of a volcano in eruption.

    The Hammer of Thor

    Charles Willard Diffin

  • The volcano's top had been stripped clean by the winds of countless years.

    Two Thousand Miles Below

    Charles Willard Diffin

British Dictionary definitions for volcano


noun plural -noes or -nos
  1. an opening in the earth's crust from which molten lava, rock fragments, ashes, dust, and gases are ejected from below the earth's surface
  2. a mountain formed from volcanic material ejected from a vent in a central crater

Word Origin for volcano

C17: from Italian, from Latin Volcānus Vulcan 1, whose forges were believed to be responsible for volcanic rumblings
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

Word Origin and History for volcano

1610s, from Italian vulcano "burning mountain," from Latin Vulcanus "Vulcan," Roman god of fire, also "fire, flames, volcano" (see Vulcan). The name was first applied to Mt. Etna by the Romans, who believed it was the forge of Vulcan.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

volcano in Science


  1. An opening in the Earth's crust from which lava, ash, and hot gases flow or are ejected during an eruption.
  2. A usually cone-shaped mountain formed by the materials issuing from such an opening. Volcanoes are usually associated with plate boundaries but can also occur within the interior areas of a tectonic plate. Their shape is directly related to the type of magma that flows from them-the more viscous the magma, the steeper the sides of the volcano.♦ A volcano composed of gently sloping sheets of basaltic lava from successive volcanic eruptions is called a shield volcano. The lava flows associated with shield volcanos, such as Mauna Loa, on Hawaii, are very fluid.♦ A volcano composed of steep, alternating layers of lava and pyroclastic materials, including ash, is called a stratovolcano. Stratovolcanos are associated with relatively viscous lava and with explosive eruptions. They are the most common form of large continental volcanos. Mount Vesuvius, Mount Fuji, and Mount St. Helens are stratovolcanos. Also called composite volcano See more at hot spot island arc tectonic boundary volcanic arc.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

volcano in Culture


A cone-shaped mountain or hill created by molten material that rises from the interior of the Earth to the surface.


Volcanoes tend to occur along the edges of tectonic plates.


Eruptions and lava flows associated with them can be very destructive. (See Mount Saint Helens and Mount Vesuvius.)
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.