Printable Version
Pronunciation: vahl-yêm Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. Degree of loudness. 2. Mass, amount, capacity, the amount of space available in a container. 3. A set of consecutive issues of a journal or periodical for a specific time period. 4. Book, particularly one in a series. 5. Scroll, roll of parchment.

Notes: This word has a substantial lexical family, including two adjectives, voluminous, which means "in large amount" and "having windings or coils", and the less frequent voluminal, without implication of amount or twists. Notice the insertion of an I between the M and N in these words. The verb is volumize, which means "to produce a book" or "to increase the volume (mass) of something", hair, for example.

In Play: The first sense of today's is arguably the most often heard: "From the volume of his voice, I would say he was angry." The third sense of today's Good Word is also common: "Alec Sander could write volumes about his experiences in corporate conference rooms."

Word History: For the path traveled over the centuries by the sense of this word, read the meanings above in reverse order. English borrowed today's Good Word from Old French volume "scroll, book; volume; girth, size", inherited from Latin volumen "roll (of parchment), coil, wreath", derived from volvere "to turn, twist, coil". Latin built volvere out of PIE wel-/wol- "to turn, revolve", source also of German walzen "to roll, dance", whence English waltz. Besides the borrowing, English derived its own word from wel-/wol-, whelk, for the coiled shape of its shell. Wallow comes from the same source. All the Latinate borrowings in -volve, revolve, involve, devolve (and develop) descended from the same source as volvere. (Now let's all give Arnaldo Mandel a standing round of e-applause for today's common yet historically intriguing Good Word.)

Dr. Goodword,

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