noun, often attributive
fu·​el | \ ˈfyü(-ə)l How to pronounce fuel (audio) \

Definition of fuel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a material used to produce heat or power by burning
b : nutritive material
c : a material from which atomic energy can be liberated especially in a reactor
2 : a source of sustenance or incentive : reinforcement


fueled or fuelled; fueling or fuelling

Definition of fuel (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to provide with fuel
2 : support, stimulate movement is fueled by massive grants-in-aid— Allen Schick

intransitive verb

: to take in fuel often used with up

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for fuel

Synonyms: Noun

energy, power

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of fuel in a Sentence


I had the fuel pump replaced on my car. These latest scandals will provide further fuel for his political opponents. These latest accusations will only add fuel to the controversy. The controversy continues to rage, and these latest accusations will only add fuel to the fire.


The airplanes were fueled in midair. The criticism she has faced has only fueled her determination to succeed. Inflation was fueled by high prices. The strong economy has fueled the construction of new homes.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The much more vocal criticism, on the right, came from manufacturing companies, truckers, small-business owners, and farm owners, who said that the program would raise fuel prices and energy bills. Carolyn Kormann, The New Yorker, "How Rogue Republicans Killed Oregon’s Climate-Change Bill," 28 June 2019 But how much fuel prices would rise — and for how long — is difficult to pinpoint. Paul Egan, Detroit Free Press, "Shut down Enbridge Line 5? Here are 6 things to know," 27 June 2019 In the early morning hours of July 16, 1969, technicians at the Kennedy Space Center loaded upward of 750,000 gallons of fuel into the 363-foot Saturn V rocket that would successfully propel the Apollo 11 spacecraft toward the moon. Andrea Gawrylewski, Scientific American, "A Saturn V LEGO Set, a Moon Images Exhibit and New Science Books," 26 June 2019 While a 45-38 loss to Baylor in the Texas Bowl ended 2018 on a down note, the close to the season gave plenty of fuel to future optimism. Edgar Thompson, orlandosentinel.com, "2019 College Football Rankings: No. 71 Vanderbilt looks to keep pace in improving SEC East," 14 June 2019 The company could also return a Starship with less than a full load of fuel. Ben Pearson, Ars Technica, "SpaceX beginning to tackle some of the big challenges for a Mars journey," 3 June 2019 Authorities are investigating a Monday morning accident at a Kinder Morgan facility in California, where a shipment of jet fuel ignited, sending a truck driver to the hospital. Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle, "Jet fuel fire under investigation at Kinder Morgan facility in California," 3 June 2019 Corrections posted January 26, 2009 The original version contained an unclear statement regarding President Obama's position on federal fuel-economy standards. The Christian Science Monitor, "Corrections," 4 Mar. 2019 The most common supernova occurs when an extra-large star runs out of fuel and dies in a titanic explosion, leaving behind a neutron star or black hole. Yvette Cendes, Discover Magazine, "What Are FRBs? The Discovery of Mysterious Signals From the Cosmos," 7 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

In 2003, the Cedar Fire, fueled by Santa Ana winds, swept in from the east and destroyed 312 homes. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Scripps Ranch: Family-friendly spot set in an imported eucalyptus forest," 30 June 2019 The district saw a decline in enrollment in the 15 years after integration, from 16,000 students to 9,000, partly fueled by white flight, according to Berkeleyside. Melanie Mason, latimes.com, "School busing in Berkeley during Kamala Harris’ childhood was both voluntary and volatile," 30 June 2019 The developers dispute reports that a decline in buyers from South America and other nations have slowed a South Florida luxury market traditionally fueled by foreigners and out-of-state domestic U.S. customers. David Lyons, sun-sentinel.com, "Aston Martin’s high rise in Miami will be the tallest residential building south of New York," 28 June 2019 The night before, former Housing Secretary Julian Castro turned in a strong performance fueled in part by battling with fellow Texan Beto O’Rourke over whether to make crossing the border illegally a civil offense, rather than a crime. Steven Lemongello, orlandosentinel.com, "Democratic debates in Miami produce stars and stumblers, but few candidates likely to drop out soon," 28 June 2019 The Rays are in the market for a new summer house, fueled by poor attendance at Tropicana Field, and their owner has already pitched playing home games in two cities: Tampa Bay and Montreal. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Forget Montreal. The Tampa Bay Rays Should Move to...London?," 28 June 2019 The sheer energy — fueled both by angst and by the ecstasy of an elderly master — make this exhibition one of the must-see events of 2019 in North Texas. Dallas News, "Return of the Lilies: Monet makes a triumphant encore at the Kimbell," 28 June 2019 People have fled to this camp from surrounding villages to escape an epidemic of murder and rape fueled by sectarian and ethnic hatred. Sebastian Shukla, Tim Lister And Clarissa Ward, CNN, "The forgotten crisis that has displaced 1.2 million people," 27 June 2019 But the landscape began to change a decade ago, fueled by technology and social media. And, Cincinnati.com, "More woes for United Way: Why is the agency spending more money and raising less?," 26 June 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of fuel


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


1592, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for fuel


Middle English fewel, from Anglo-French fuail, feuaile, from Vulgar Latin *focalia, from Latin focus hearth

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fuel

Statistics for fuel

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fuel

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fuel



English Language Learners Definition of fuel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a material (such as coal, oil, or gas) that is burned to produce heat or power
: something that gives support or strength to something (such as argument or angry feelings)



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

: to supply (something) with fuel
: to take in fuel
: to give support or strength to (something)


fu·​el | \ ˈfyü-əl How to pronounce fuel (audio) \

Kids Definition of fuel

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a substance (as oil or gasoline) that can be burned to produce heat or power


fueled or fuelled; fueling or fuelling

Kids Definition of fuel (Entry 2 of 2)

: to supply with or take on fuel

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on fuel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fuel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fuel

Spanish Central: Translation of fuel

Nglish: Translation of fuel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fuel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fuel

Comments on fuel

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


a small bunch of flowers

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!