1590s "fine or light," also "evaporating rapidly" (c. 1600), from French volatile, from Latin volatilis "fleeting, transitory; swift, rapid; flying, winged," from past participle stem of volare "to fly" (see volant). Sense of "readily changing, flighty, fickle" is first recorded 1640s. Volatiles in Middle English meant "birds, butterflies, and other winged creatures" (c. 1300).
name for salt formerly much used in pharmacy and old chemistry, late 14c., from Old French sal, from Latin sal (genitive salis) "salt" (from PIE root *sal- "salt"). For sal ammoniac "ammonium chloride" (early 14c.), see ammonia. Sal volatile, "ammonium carbonate," especially as used in reviving persons who have fainted, is by 1650s, Modern Latin, literally "volatile salt" (see volatile).
volatile alkali, colorless gas with a strong pungent smell, 1799, coined in scientific Latin 1782 by Swedish chemist Torbern Bergman as a name for the gas obtained from sal ammoniac, salt deposits containing ammonium chloride found near temple of Jupiter Ammon (from Egyptian God Amun) in Libya (see Ammon, and compare ammoniac). The shrine was ancient already in Augustus' day, and the salts were prepared "from the sands where the camels waited while their masters prayed for good omens" [Shipley], hence the mineral deposits. Also known as spirit of hartshorn and volatile alkali or animal alkali.
"trichloromethane," volatile, colorless liquid used as an anaesthetic, 1835, from French chloroforme, a hybrid coined 1834 by French chemist Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1800-1884) from chloro-, combining form meaning "chlorine" (see chlorine), + formique "formic (acid)" (see formic (adj.)).
As a verb, "to subject to the influence of chloroform," from 1848, the year its anaesthetic properties were discovered. Related: Chloroformed.
late 14c., fixacion, an alchemical word, "action of reducing a volatile substance to a permanent bodily form," from Medieval Latin fixationem (nominative fixatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of Latin fixare, frequentative of figere "to fasten, fix" (from PIE root *dheigw- "to stick, fix"). Meaning "condition of being fixed" is from 1630s. Used in the Freudian sense since 1910.