noun, often attributive
fu·​el | \ˈfyü(-ə)l \

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

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Synonyms for fuel

Synonyms: Noun

energy, power

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

American’s management faces negotiations with pilots and, shortly after that, flight attendants, as its profit is falling due to higher fuel costs. David Koenig, The Seattle Times, "Pilot union says it wants to help reduce delays on American," 19 Nov. 2018 But continuing to pass on fuel costs to customers will be challenge. Costas Paris, WSJ, "Maersk Bounces Back to Profit on Soaring Trans-Pacific Freight Rates," 14 Nov. 2018 Lazard surveys energy buildouts that occurred in the previous year and divides the estimated cost of building and operating the plant, including fuel cost estimates, by the amount of energy a particular plant is expected to produce in its lifetime. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "New year, same story: Cost of wind and solar fall below cost of coal and gas," 12 Nov. 2018 Maersk thinks the advanced sails could cut its fuel costs by 10 percent. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "Cargo Ships Are Turning Back to Wind Power—But Don't Expect Big Triangular Sails," 31 Aug. 2018 Ship operators and bunker providers are wrestling with preparations for looming sulfur-emissions restrictions while fuel prices have soared over the past year as the cost of crude has increased. Paul Page, WSJ, "Today’s Logistics Report: Labor Peace in Trucking; Tankers in Rebound; Supplier Tariff Tensions," 12 Nov. 2018 Al-Hajaji wanted to take the ailing 4-year-old to the hospital, but that was out of the question: fuel prices had risen by 50 percent over the previous year. Declan Walsh, The Seattle Times, "The tragedy of Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen," 26 Oct. 2018 All airlines are struggling to keep up with fuel prices, and low-fare carriers are not immune to that. Aditi Shrikant, Vox, "A European airline shuttered abruptly, stranding travelers. Here’s why budget companies are struggling.," 5 Oct. 2018 Don’t stress about city parking spots either; the Ford Pass is a one-stop app that can find parking and even compare fuel prices. Juliet Izon, Good Housekeeping, "5 Cheap Road Trips to Take When You Really Need to Get Out of Town," 25 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The reports point to a perfect storm of sorts that's fueling rampant infections. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "E-commerce site is infected not by one, but two card skimmers," 20 Nov. 2018 Argento’s Suspiria put red everywhere, right from the jump, because the evil within the dance school was everywhere — and so was the bright red creative passion that fueled said evil. Aja Romano, Vox, "How Suspiria turns the color red into a plot point," 9 Nov. 2018 While these arbiters of design work fiercely to create dream homes, there’s never a shortage of hilarity, sass, and an unpretentious playfulness that fuels their relationships with the homeowners and each other. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Original 'Queer Eye' Stars Reunite For TV's Most Stylish Home Makeover Show," 19 Oct. 2018 Every situation, even those that fuel professional growth, requires negotiation. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What October's Aquarius Horoscope Means for You," 30 Sep. 2018 This whole two-week effort has been a calculated and orchestrated political hit fueled with apparent pent-up anger about president trump and the 2016 election, fear that has been unfairly stoked about my judicial record. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Read the Full Transcript of Brett Kavanaugh's Opening Statement at Today's Hearing," 27 Sep. 2018 Empowering women is Wolfe Herd’s cornerstone, the motivator that fuels all of her ambitious plans. Daphne Beal, Marie Claire, "Whitney Wolfe Herd Has Big Plans for Bumble in 2019," 20 Sep. 2018 The romanticism of driving into the sunset was too powerful a narcotic to ignore—and promised the sort of never-look-back escape that fueled office drones for generations to come. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018 Beijing has announced reforms this year including ending limits on foreign ownership in its auto industry, but none directly addresses complaints that are fueling its conflict with Washington. Joe Mcdonald, chicagotribune.com, "Trade war begins: U.S. tariffs take effect as China announces retaliation," 6 July 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for fuel

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fuel

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

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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 \

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

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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

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the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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