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

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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

This fiber also provides prebiotics, which fuel your body’s probiotics and help these friendly bacteria survive and thrive. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Is Oat Milk Healthy? Here's What You Need to Know, According to a Nutritionist," 11 Apr. 2019 The telescope has been running low on fuel reserves for six months now. Meghan Bartels, Space.com, "NASA's Aging Planet-Hunting Kepler Telescope Is Struggling to See Straight," 1 Oct. 2018 HBO Redditor u/nomadvisions predicts that Arya will try to take down Cersei but will be stopped dead (sorry) in her tracks by the Queen's Frankenstein bodyguard, the Mountain, and Arya's death will pour more fuel on the Hound's fire. Ineye Komonibo, Marie Claire, "Will the Cleganebowl Be Sparked by Arya Dying on 'Game of Thrones'?," 6 May 2019 Unlike drivers who work for third-party delivery companies, independent contractors are responsible for all fuel costs and vehicle maintenance incurred while on the road. Gaby Del Valle, Vox, "Amazon is cutting costs with its own delivery service — but its drivers don’t receive benefits," 26 Dec. 2018 That booster then hit the fuel tank of the central part of the rocket, lurching it violently off course. Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge, "Russia’s space agency reveals why last month’s rocket launch failed," 1 Nov. 2018 The most obvious reason is the battery size: the XPS 15 has nearly twice the battery capacity, at 96Wh vs. the 51Wh fuel tank in the XPS 13. Gordon Mah Ung, PCWorld, "Dell XPS 13 vs. Dell XPS 15: Which should you buy?," 11 Sep. 2018 After the 9/11 terrorist attacks in 2001, many airlines had a hard time, facing a sharp drop in people flying coupled with a surge in the price of fuel. Seattle Times Staff, The Seattle Times, "The Motley Fool: Defining shell companies," 13 Apr. 2019 The Trump document, in fact, is no different from Obama documents showing that the pending Obama fuel-mileage rules produce virtually no climate benefit—less than 0.0072 degree Fahrenheit by 2100. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "On Climate, Listen to the Nobel," 9 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The Instagram account @WhatAlexisWore (tracking all of Joan Collins' ultra-glam outfits on Dynasty) became my new go-to, further fueling my obsession of the look. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "How to Wear the ‘80s Trend Without Looking Too Extra," 20 May 2019 The helicopter was being repositioned to the West Side Heliport for fueling by the operator, Zip Aviation, and was not servicing a Blade mission. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "An 'Uber for Helicopters' Just Crashed Into the Hudson River," 15 May 2019 View this post on Instagram A post shared by rosariodawson (@rosariodawson) on Feb 14, 2017 at 10:27am PST October 2018 Cory is still fueling rumors of being linked to on-and-off girlfriend Chanda Gibson. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "How Cory Booker and Rosario Dawson's Relationship Has Evolved," 19 Mar. 2019 From the fashion to the behind-the-scenes moments to the next-day gossip, what happens at the Met Gala fuels an entire week's worth of news. Glamour, "The Most Unforgettable Moments in Met Gala History," 6 May 2019 Given that medical bills are the number one cause of bankruptcy in this country, of course health-care costs fuel the already shameful wealth disparity between people of color and white Americans. Nina Turner, Vogue, "Why Universal Health Care, Higher Wages, and Free Public Education Are Crucial Issues for Black Women," 3 May 2019 The fact that she hasn't been seen publicly since March is also fueling gossip, as is a statement from Buckingham Palace, which was released last month. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "When Meghan Markle Is in Labor with the Royal Baby There Will Reportedly Be an Announcement From the Palace," 2 May 2019 Tourists are pouring into many of the continent’s 54 nations in record numbers, fueling development in traditional tourist hubs and new investment in frontier markets. Alexandra Wexler, WSJ, "Western Hotel Brands Supercharge African Expansion," 1 May 2019 Packing an impressive 10,000 mAh battery and capable of charging up to 4 devices simultaneously, the GOSPACE SuperCharger can keep your tech essentials fueled throughout the day. Popular Mechanics, "This Portable Charger Is Built for Frequent Flyers," 27 Apr. 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.

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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

22 May 2019

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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 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

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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

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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