1

coal

noun, often attributive \ ˈkōl \
Updated on: 13 Apr 2018

Definition of coal

plural coals
1 : a piece of glowing carbon or charred wood : ember
2 : charcoal 1
3 a : a black or brownish-black solid combustible substance formed by the partial decomposition of vegetable matter without free access of air and under the influence of moisture and often increased pressure and temperature that is widely used as a natural fuel
b coals plural, British : pieces or a quantity of the fuel broken up for burning
haul/rake (someone) over the coals
informal
: to criticize (someone) very severely
  • The government was then raked over the coals for refusing to send out information about the candidates.
  • The Economist
  • The Headmaster was angry. So angry, indeed, that he did what in a more lucid interval he would not have done. He hauled a senior over the coals in the hearing of a number of juniors …
  • —P. G. Wodehouse

Examples of coal in a Sentence

  1. When the coals are red, they are very hot.

  2. I toasted one last marshmallow over the coals of the campfire.

Recent Examples of coal from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of coal

Middle English col, from Old English; akin to Old High German & Old Norse kol burning ember, Middle Irish gúal coal


2

coal

verb

Definition of coal

1 : to burn to charcoal : char
2 : to supply with coal
: to take in coal

First Known Use of coal

1560



COAL Defined for English Language Learners

coal

Definition of coal for English Language Learners

  • : a black or brownish-black hard substance within the earth that is used as a fuel

  • : a piece of coal or charcoal especially when burning

  • : a glowing piece of wood from a fire


COAL Defined for Kids

coal

noun \ ˈkōl \

Definition of coal for Students

1 : a piece of glowing or charred wood : ember
2 : a black solid mineral substance that is formed by the partial decay of plant matter under the influence of moisture and often increased pressure and temperature within the earth and is mined for use as a fuel


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