vol·​ca·​no väl-ˈkā-(ˌ)nō How to pronounce volcano (audio)
plural volcanoes or volcanos
: a vent in the crust of the earth or another planet or a moon from which usually molten or hot rock and steam issue
also : a hill or mountain composed wholly or in part of the ejected material
: something of explosively violent potential

Illustration of volcano

Illustration of volcano
  • 1 cinder cone
  • 2 shield volcano
  • 3 stratovolcano

Examples of volcano in a Sentence

The volcano last erupted 25 years ago. after months of tension the roommates' living situation was a volcano
Recent Examples on the Web In September 2021, the Cumbre Vieja volcano erupted on the neighboring island of La Palma, spewing ash and lava for nearly three months, displacing thousands, and causing over €840 million ($899 million) in damage. Colette Davidson, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Sep. 2023 The last two photos featured a solo shot of Sam and a volcano towering in the distance across a body of water. Michael Lee Simpson, Peoplemag, 8 Sep. 2023 The volcano moved as much matter in a few hours as the world’s rivers delivered into the oceans in a whole year. Rahul Rao, Popular Science, 7 Sep. 2023 Earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanoes, which are not related to climate change, also add to this risk. Isabella O'Malley, Fortune, 18 Aug. 2023 Swain said there may also be some tertiary factors contributing to the record warmth, including the Hunga-Tonga volcano eruption of 2022, which shot record-breaking amounts of heat-trapping water vapor into the stratosphere. Hayley Smith Los Angeles Times (tns), al, 15 Aug. 2023 But those pictures were ultimately about creation: Because the archipelago is among the youngest pieces of land on earth, built around the volcanos reaching from the sea floor, every eruption announced another addition. Time, 15 Aug. 2023 Metaphors from the natural world proliferate in descriptions of Liszt’s playing: storms, volcanoes, comets, the Apocalypse itself. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 4 Sep. 2023 In 2012, when Vini Franchetti’s vineyard on Mount Etna was directly affected by wildfire, half of the chardonnay, grown at high altitudes on the side of the active volcano, was lost. Sofia Andrade, Washington Post, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'volcano.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Italian or Spanish; Italian vulcano, from Spanish volcán, ultimately from Latin Volcanus Vulcan

First Known Use

1665, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of volcano was in 1665

Dictionary Entries Near volcano

Cite this Entry

“Volcano.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/volcano. Accessed 23 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


vol·​ca·​no väl-ˈkā-nō How to pronounce volcano (audio)
plural volcanoes or volcanos
: a vent in the earth's crust from which melted or hot rock and steam come out
also : a hill or mountain composed entirely or in part of the material thrown out

from Italian or Spanish; Italian vulcano "volcano," from Spanish vulcán, from Latin Volcanus, Vulcanus "Vulcan (Roman god of fire)"

Word Origin
The ancient Greeks and Romans had many gods and goddesses. Each of these deities was in charge of a special kind of work or an aspect of nature. Many of the happenings in nature were explained in myth as the actions of one or more of these gods or goddesses. The Roman god of fire was known as Vulcanus in Latin (Vulcan in English). He was thought to live inside Mount Etna, a volcano on the island of Sicily. Vulcan was a giant who worked as a blacksmith, forging the thunderbolts for Jupiter, king of the gods. The smoke and occasional fiery rocks and lava that came from Mount Etna were thought to be from Vulcan's forge. That is how his name came to be applied to a mountain that sometimes spews forth fire and smoke.

More from Merriam-Webster on volcano

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