: an opening in the earth's crust from which hot or melted rock and steam erupt
: a hill or mountain composed of material thrown out in a volcanic eruption
Word History of VOLCANO
Before Columbus, Europeans knew only the handful of active volcanoes long familiar to sailors in the Mediterranean, such as Vesuvius in Italy. There was no general word to describe a mountain that emitted fire. This situation changed in the 1500s, however, when the Spanish conquistadors came upon the great volcanic peaks of Mexico, Central America, and the Andes. In the writings of the conquistadors the word used for these mountains was volcán, whose roots lie in the ancient world. Vulcanus, the Roman god of fire, was particularly associated with the volcanic Lipari Islands off the coast of Sicily—one of which is still called Vulcano in Italian. Through Arabic, Latin Vulcanus was brought to Spanish as a name for fiery peaks, and from Spanish to Italian, French, and English.