char·​coal | \ˈchär-ˌkōl \

Definition of charcoal 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a dark or black porous carbon prepared from vegetable or animal substances (as from wood by charring in a kiln from which air is excluded)

2a : a piece or pencil of fine charcoal used in drawing

b : a charcoal drawing

3 : a dark gray


charcoaled; charcoaling; charcoals

Definition of charcoal (Entry 2 of 2)

Examples of charcoal in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The stretched canvas, once reserved for the application of oil paints, Sterne took to drawing on with graphite, pastels, and charcoal. Marley Marius, Vogue, "A Radical Female Artist (and an Unsung Hero of the Avant-Garde) Gets Another Look in “Hedda Sterne: Structures and Landscapes”," 29 Oct. 2018 The company produces and sells thermal coal to power plants, industrial customers and barbecue charcoal manufactures, the company said. Jonathan Randles, WSJ, "Westmoreland Coal Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy," 9 Oct. 2018 Anticipation mounts as the line crawls past a massive, smoky wok atop smoldering charcoal. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "Loud, Crowded, Grease-Stained, and Gloriously Drunk: Where the World Eats After Hours," 8 Oct. 2018 Tennessee Whiskey: Must be distilled in Tennessee using the charcoal-filtering method. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "How to Drink Whiskey: A Complete Guide," 1 Oct. 2018 The brand says that Blackdrop gets its color from the formula's mix of mattifying bamboo charcoal powder and smoothing black pearl, while vitamin E hydrates and phytoplankton extract wards off pollution. Rachel Nussbaum, Glamour, "This Black Primer Works Like Magic on Your Skin," 24 Sep. 2018 Inside is powdered activated charcoal to absorb any potential leakage. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "How the Experts Identify Chemical Weapons and Prove an Attack," 7 Aug. 2018 Look for those with the same ingredients mentioned above, especially clay or charcoal — both of which help absorb excess oil. Beth Janes, Seventeen, "What to Do the *Second* a Pimple Appears," 7 Aug. 2018 Strangely, this sale price only applies to the charcoal color, not the fog or coral options. Cameron Faulkner, The Verge, "Google Daydream View virtual reality headset is $70 off," 1 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Bruce Gilbert Miami Herald File All that remained in the rubble was a charcoaled safe that contained some of the company’s accounts receivable and payable records. Howard Cohen, miamiherald, "The family businessman who helped grow Norton Tire into a national symbol," 4 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'charcoal.' 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 charcoal


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1965, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for charcoal


Middle English charcole

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Statistics for charcoal

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for charcoal

The first known use of charcoal was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for charcoal



English Language Learners Definition of charcoal

: a hard black material that is made by burning wood with a small amount of air

: a dark gray color


char·​coal | \ˈchär-ˌkōl \

Kids Definition of charcoal

: a black or dark absorbent fuel made by heating wood in the absence of air


char·​coal | \ˈchär-ˌkōl \

Medical Definition of charcoal 

: a dark or black porous carbon prepared from vegetable or animal substances (as from wood by charring in a kiln from which air is excluded) — see activated charcoal

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More from Merriam-Webster on charcoal

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with charcoal

Spanish Central: Translation of charcoal

Nglish: Translation of charcoal for Spanish Speakers

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

Comments on charcoal

What made you want to look up charcoal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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