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[vohl-tuh, vol-; Italian vawl-tah]
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noun, plural vol·te [vohl-tey, vol-; Italian vawl-te] /ˈvoʊl teɪ, ˈvɒl-; Italian ˈvɔl tɛ/. Music.
  1. turn; time (used in phrases): una volta (“once”); prima volta (“first time”).
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Origin of volta

1635–45; < Italian: a turn; see volt2


[vohl-tuh or, Italian vawl-tah for 1; vol-tuh, vohl- for 2]
  1. Count A·les·san·dro [ah-les-sahn-draw] /ˌɑ lɛsˈsɑn drɔ/, 1745–1827, Italian physicist.
  2. a river in W Africa, in Ghana, formed by the confluence of the Black Volta and the White Volta and flowing S into the Bight of Benin. About 250 miles (400 km) long; with branches about 1240 miles (1995 km) long.
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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for volta


noun plural -te (Italian -te)
  1. a quick-moving Italian dance popular during the 16th and 17th centuries
  2. a piece of music written for or in the rhythm of this dance, in triple time
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Word Origin

C17: from Italian: turn; see volt ²


  1. a river in W Africa, formed by the confluence of the Black Volta and the White Volta in N central Ghana: flows south to the Bight of Benin: the chief river of Ghana. Length: 480 km (300 miles); (including the Black Volta) 1600 km (1000 miles)
  2. Lake Volta an artificial lake in Ghana, extending 408 km (250 miles) upstream from the Volta River Dam on the Volta River: completed in 1966. Area: 8482 sq km (3275 sq miles)
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  1. Count Alessandro (alesˈsandro). 1745–1827, Italian physicist after whom the volt is named. He made important contributions to the theory of current electricity and invented the voltaic pile (1800), the electrophorus (1775), and an electroscope
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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 volta


West African river, from 15c. Portuguese Rio da Volta, literally "river of return" (perhaps because it was where ships turned around and headed for home) or "river of bend," in reference to its course.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

volta in Science


  1. Italian physicist who in 1800 invented the voltaic pile, which was the first source of continuous electric current. The volt unit of electromotive force is named for him.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.