Oil | Definition of Oil by Merriam-Webster

2021.03.23 12:26



noun , often attributive Save Word \ ˈȯi(-ə)l \

Definition of oil

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 a : any of numerous unctuous combustible substances that are liquid or can be liquefied easily on warming, are soluble in ether but not in water, and leave a greasy stain on paper or cloth b (1) : petroleum (2) : the petroleum industry 2 : a substance (such as a cosmetic preparation) of oily consistency bath oil 3 a : an oil color used by an artist b : a painting done in oil colors 4 : unctuous or flattering speech


verb oiled ; oiling ; oils

Definition of oil (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to smear, rub over, furnish, or lubricate with oil

intransitive verb

: to take on fuel oil oil the hand or oil the palm : bribe , tip Synonyms More Example Sentences Learn More about oil

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Synonyms for oil

Synonyms: Noun

canvas ( also canvass ) , oil painting , painting

Synonyms: Verb

grease , lubricate , slick , wax Visit the Thesaurus for More

Examples of oil in a Sentence

Noun The price of crude oil is expected to rise.
We heat our house with oil . A little bit of oil will help lubricate the chain. Add a little oil to the pan and stir-fry the onions. The dressing is made with oil , vinegar, and a pinch of herbs. Verb He oiled the bearings of the machine. if you oil the machinery on a regular basis, it will operate more efficiently See More Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This allowed private investment in oil and gas as well as electricity generation. The Economist , "A bad energy law says much about Mexico’s president," 13 Mar. 2021 Biden has pledged stricter emissions mandates for power plants, passenger cars, and oil and gas production that are likely to be critical pieces of the administration’s new commitment as part of the Paris climate agreement. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner , "Daily on Energy, presented by Bipartisan Policy Center: Biden's climate agenda could pose early test in EPA and White House dynamic," 12 Mar. 2021 Progress in reducing emissions from hard-to-abate industrial sectors such as metals extraction and oil and gas production will benefit from technological advances. Forbes , "2021 Could See Greater Progress On Decarbonization [Video]," 12 Mar. 2021 In the Senate, the cost could be a turnoff to lawmakers confronted with declining revenue from Wyoming's coal, oil and gas industries, which have led to steep state and local cuts. Mead Gruver, ajc , "Wyoming election changes move ahead after push by Trump Jr.," 12 Mar. 2021 Kern County gave upfront environmental approval for 40,500 new oil and gas wells. Los Angeles Times , "Here’s what clean energy companies want from President Biden," 11 Mar. 2021 The two groups, which operate as ISIS’s Central African franchise, have become some of the most lethal among the group’s global affiliates and are threatening billions of dollars of U.S.-funded oil and gas projects in East Africa. Gordon Lubold, WSJ , "U.S. Sanctions Islamic State’s Central African Franchise for First Time," 10 Mar. 2021 Its client roster includes five of the global Fortune 10 firms, four of the largest oil and gas companies, and major names in the telecommunications, auto and airline industries, according to the company. Dallas News , "Addison security analytics firm hauls in $24 million investment from Capital One Ventures," 10 Mar. 2021 An executive at Comstock Resources, an oil and gas producer owned in part by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, noted in a quarterly presentation in mid-February that the firm had seen a windfall from the spike in natural gas prices. Diego Mendoza-moyers, San Antonio Express-News , "AG Ken Paxton to investigate natural gas price spikes," 8 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Prices for bonds tied to oil major Petróleo Brasileiro SA fell Monday after Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro moved to replace the company’s chief executive. Sebastian Pellejero, WSJ , "Conflict at Petrobras Hits Bond Prices," 22 Feb. 2021 Drain your pasta but remember not to rinse it or oil it. Will Packwood, San Antonio Express-News , "Make classic lasagna Bolognese your love language this Valentine's Day," 3 Feb. 2021 Canada hopes to oil the wheels on the Keystone XL pipeline despite President-elect Joe Biden's stated opposition to it. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner , "Canada calls on Biden not to cancel Keystone XL pipeline," 19 Jan. 2021 Spray or oil the pan, then press in the parchment paper so that there’s overhang on the two long sides. Washington Post , "A black and white sesame cake made for all-day snacking," 15 Dec. 2020 It’s about technology, and whether or not oil demand responds to new technologies the way coal is now responding to solar: with structural decline. Nathaniel Bullard, , "The Future of Energy Is About Technology, Not Fossil Fuels," 15 Oct. 2020 Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C), and lightly oil a baking sheet. Beth Segal, cleveland , "Veggie Burger 2.0: Better than beef? It’s possible!," 27 Aug. 2020 The Alaskan refuge is rich in biodiversity—and possibly oil as well. Amy Mckeever, National Geographic , "Latest: Trump's and Biden's environmental policy promises and actions," 17 Aug. 2020 Brush the grill clean and oil the grates slick again. Christian Reynoso, , "Grilled in-season king salmon fires up a classic BLT," 7 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback .

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First Known Use of oil


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for oil


Middle English oile , from Anglo-French, from Latin oleum olive oil, from Greek elaion , from elaia olive

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Time Traveler for oil

The first known use of oil was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries near oil





oil and gas lease

oil bag

oil bath

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Phrases Related to oil

a/the squeaky wheel gets the grease/oil

no oil painting

oil change

oil lamp

oil platform

oil rig

oil tanker

Statistics for oil

Last Updated

14 Mar 2021

Look-up Popularity

Cite this Entry

“Oil.” Dictionary , Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

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English Language Learners Definition of oil

(Entry 1 of 2)

: a thick, black liquid that comes from the ground and that is used in making various products (such as gasoline) : a type of oil that is used as a fuel to produce heat or light : a type of oil that makes the different parts in an engine, machine, etc., run smoothly



English Language Learners Definition of oil (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put oil in or on (something)

See the full definition for oil in the English Language Learners Dictionary


noun \ ˈȯil \

Kids Definition of oil

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of numerous greasy usually liquid substances from plant, animal, or mineral sources that do not dissolve in water and are used especially as lubricants, fuels, and food 2 : petroleum 3 : paint made of pigments and oil 4 : a painting done in oils


verb oiled ; oiling

Kids Definition of oil (Entry 2 of 2)

: to rub on or lubricate with a greasy substance


noun \ ˈȯi(ə)l \

Medical Definition of oil

1 : any of numerous unctuous combustible substances that are liquid or can be liquefied easily on warming, are soluble in ether but not in water, and leave a greasy stain on paper or cloth — see essential oil , fatty oil , volatile oil 2 : a substance (as a cosmetic preparation) of oily consistency bath oil

Other Words from oil

oil adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on oil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oil

Nglish: Translation of oil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oil for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about oil

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