9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[vol-uh-tl, -til or, esp. British, -tahyl] /ˈvɒl ə tl, -tɪl or, esp. British, -ˌtaɪl/
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
1250-1300; Middle English < Latin volātilis, equivalent to volāt(us) (past participle of volāre to fly; see -ate1) + -ilis -ile
Related forms
[vol-uh-til-i-tee] /ˌvɒl əˈtɪl ɪ ti/ (Show IPA),
volatileness, noun
nonvolatility, noun
semivolatile, adjective
unvolatile, adjective
2. eruptive, unstable, unsettled. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for volatile
  • Temperature that's warm enough to keep us comfortable will release the volatile oils in tender herb leaves.
  • These plants are a type of mint and produce a host of volatile oils and other chemicals.
  • Federal financing has proved to be extremely volatile, even before this week's ruling.
  • If you prefer green products, anything fairly volatile is sufficient.
  • History is a smallish field, hence more volatile, and has recently seen growth in the undergraduate major and hiring.
  • In such a volatile situation, all kinds of unexpected people make their way into the picture.
  • The world is mind precipitated, and the volatile essence is forever escaping again into the state of free thought.
  • The day-light is lit with more volatile light-the deep between the setting and rising sun goes deeper many fold.
  • And if the heat be greatly increased it dissolves and turns much of their substance to a volatile state.
  • The art world is wondering how volatile financial markets might affect its own specialized market.
British Dictionary definitions for volatile


(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 time: volatile 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
Derived Forms
volatileness, volatility (ˌvɒləˈtɪlɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
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
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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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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volatile in Medicine

volatile vol·a·tile (vŏl'ə-tl, -tīl')

  1. Evaporating readily at normal temperatures and pressures.

  2. That can be readily vaporized.

  3. 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.
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volatile in Science
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 © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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volatile in Technology

1. volatile variable.
2. See non-volatile storage.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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