Definition of volatile in English:


Line breaks: vola|tile
Pronunciation: /ˈvɒlətʌɪl


  • 1(Of a substance) easily evaporated at normal temperatures: volatile solvents such as petroleum ether, hexane, and benzene
    More example sentences
    • Other substances used in volatile substance abuse are solvents, which comprise one of the other areas the Minister wants examined.
    • Even small amounts of gasoline or other volatile fuels or solvents mixed with kerosene can substantially increase the risk of a fire or an explosion.
    • In fact, all volatile substances are potentially narcotics.
    evaporative, vaporous, vaporescent; explosive, eruptive, inflammable; unstable
    technical labile
  • 3(Of a computer’s memory) retaining data only as long as there is a power supply connected.
    More example sentences
    • When a compromised system is powered off, important information or evidence stored in volatile memory may be lost.
    • It just so happens that adding charge is one of the requirements of volatile memory, like DRAM.
    • These attacks attempt to gain access to the secrets stored in volatile and non-volatile memories.


(usually volatiles) Back to top  
  • A volatile substance.
    More example sentences
    • Methyl acetate had the highest mean peak height of the selected volatiles, followed by acetic acid and then acetaldehyde.
    • Although the RAS gave off higher concentrations of volatiles than those measured in the nosespace analysis, the ratios of flavour compounds were similar.
    • Several chemical techniques will detect explosives or their volatiles even at the trace levels found in and above the soil where they are buried.



Pronunciation: /-ˈtɪlɪti/
More example sentences
  • This separation creates the potential for high financial volatility at the same time as sluggish economic growth.
  • Hedge funds are often named as the culprits when financial markets go through periods of volatility.
  • We live in an age of unprecedented voter volatility, where political attitudes can be transformed overnight.


Middle English (in the sense 'creature that flies', also, as a collective, 'birds'): from Old French volatil or Latin volatilis, from volare 'to fly'.

More definitions of volatile

Definition of volatile in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day razz
Pronunciation: raz
tease (someone) playfully