coal

1 of 2

noun

plural coals
often attributive
1
: a piece of glowing carbon or charred wood : ember
2
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

coal

2 of 2

verb

coaled; coaling; coals

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to take in coal
Phrases
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

Noun When the coals are red, they are very hot. I toasted one last marshmallow over the coals of the campfire.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The site is adjacent to PacifiCorp’s Naughton Power Plant, which will stop burning coal in 2026 and natural gas a decade later, the utility said. Jennifer McDermott, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 June 2024 The restaurant is known for its steaks, which are aged 21 days, flash-frozen to keep them fresh, then hand-cut and cooked over hot hardwood coals. Joseph Hernandez, Kansas City Star, 3 June 2024
Verb
The arrival of steam power turned mines and coaling stations into crucial strategic assets. Gideon Rose, Foreign Affairs, 20 Feb. 2024 The Navy built a coaling station in 1901, about the same time Katherine Tingley established her Lomaland headquarters for the Theosophical Society, now the Point Loma Nazarene University campus. San Diego Union-Tribune, 2 Oct. 2023 See all Example Sentences for coal 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'coal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

First Known Use

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1560, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of coal was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near coal

Cite this Entry

“Coal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/coal. Accessed 18 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

coal

1 of 2 noun
1
: a piece of glowing or charred wood : ember
2
: a black or brownish black solid substance formed by the partial decay of vegetable matter under the influence of moisture and often increased pressure and temperature within the earth that is widely used as a fuel

coal

2 of 2 verb
1
: to supply with coal
2
: to take in coal

More from Merriam-Webster on coal

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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