essential oil


Definition of essential oil 

: any of a class of volatile oils that give plants their characteristic odors and are used especially in perfumes and flavorings, and for aromatherapy — compare fixed oil

Examples of essential oil in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Like a number of acne remedies (and essential oils), tea tree oil is irritating. Ashley Weatherford, The Cut, "A Guide to Megan Markle’s Favorite Anti-Acne Oil," 13 July 2018 Be careful with claims that essential oils can help calm dogs down. Southern Living, "How to Keep Dogs Calm During Fireworks," 3 July 2018 Matt Martin Sometimes all your aching joints need is some essential oil from that magical herb. Brennan Kilbane, GQ, "The Best CBD Products for Soothing Your Body and Mind," 20 Apr. 2018 The essential oils in the orange express the citrus characters that can be detected in Woodford Reserve. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "A bourbon tasting game will amp up your Kentucky Derby party," 11 Apr. 2018 People use essential oils a variety of ways: as lotions, for hair care, aromatherapy, cleaning products and more. Alexandra Sifferlin, Time, "Are Essential Oils Safe?," 19 Mar. 2018 The few scientific studies that have looked at coconut oil to repel mosquitoes used it as a base for other essential oils. Houston Chronicle, "Old wives’ remedy helped arthritis pain," 1 July 2018 Or put a few drops of an essential oil into water, soak a washcloth in it and wash up. Beth Wood,, "Serenity now: Find the calm in caregiving," 27 Apr. 2018 Shelves are stocked with glass jars of every essential oil imaginable. Erin Flaherty, Marie Claire, "Beauty Travels: Exploring India’s Centuries-Old Obsession with Jasmine," 6 Dec. 2017

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

1674, in the meaning defined above

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Last Updated

16 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for essential oil

The first known use of essential oil was in 1674

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More Definitions for essential oil

essential oil


English Language Learners Definition of essential oil

: an oil that comes from a plant, that smells like the plant it comes from, and that is used in perfumes and flavorings

essential oil


Medical Definition of essential oil 

: any of a large class of volatile odoriferous oils of vegetable origin that give plants their characteristic odors and often other properties, that are obtained from various parts of the plants (as flowers, leaves, or bark) by steam distillation, expression, or extraction, that are usually mixtures of compounds (as aldehydes or esters), and that are used often in the form of essences in perfumes, flavorings, and pharmaceutical preparations

called also ethereal oil, volatile oil

— compare fatty oil, fixed oil

More from Merriam-Webster on essential oil

See words that rhyme with essential oil Encyclopedia article about essential oil

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