One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1‘her sister was headstrong and volatile’
unpredictable, changeable, variable, inconstant, inconsistent, uncertain, erratic, irregular, unstable, turbulent, unsteady, unsettled, unreliable, undependable, changing, ever-changing, varying, shifting, fluctuating, fluid, mutable, protean, fitful, wavering, full of ups and downs
mercurial, capricious, whimsical, fickle, flighty, giddy, impulsive, wayward, temperamental, highly strung, excitable, emotional, overemotional, fiery, moody, choleric, stormy, tempestuous, volcanic
informal blowing hot and cold
rare fluctuant, changeful
2‘the atmosphere in the capital seems far too volatile for any talk of elections’
tense, strained, fraught, uneasy, uncomfortable, charged, explosive, eruptive, inflammatory, turbulent, in turmoil, full of upheavals
informal hairy, nail-biting, white-knuckle
British informal dodgy
3‘a plume of pollution caused by a volatile organic compound’
evaporative, vaporous, vaporescent
explosive, eruptive, inflammable
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