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

The Niro is a family of electrified cars under Kia’s EcoDynamics sub-brand of alternative-fuel vehicles. Mark Maynard, sandiegouniontribune.com, "2018 Kia Niro PHEV: The future of plug-and-play," 13 July 2018 But those calculations omit a key variable: someone still needs to pay for the existing fossil-fuel infrastructure. Justin Worland/pueblo, Time, "How One Industrial City Is Fighting to Go Green," 12 July 2018 Snacking on a peach thirty minutes before a workout will offer quick acting fuel, or add them to your lunch with this Peach Panzanella Salad. NBC News, "8 summer superfoods to eat after a tough workout," 11 July 2018 The tank farm stores fuel carried in underground pipelines from refineries in Salt Lake City. Sven Berg, idahostatesman, "A 60-year-old fuel terminal could leave Boise’s Bench. Here’s what could replace it.," 11 July 2018 The Russian spacecraft was carrying more than two tons of cargo, including fuel, air, maintenance equipment, and care and life support packs for the astronauts on board the ISS. David Meyer, Fortune, "A Robotic Spacecraft Just Smashed the Record for Fastest Trip to the International Space Station," 10 July 2018 The pump snaps and leftover fuel from inside the hose sprays everywhere, the video shows. Kaitlyn Schwers, kansascity, "Gas pump ripped out by van sprays Lamborghini, which bursts into flames," 10 July 2018 And two, most other efforts to develop small satellite launch vehicles have not used solid-fuel rockets, so this seems to be a somewhat novel approach to this market. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Japanese rocket blows up, NASA chief ponders purpose of SLS," 6 July 2018 The International Atomic Energy Agency laboured to monitor Iraq’s nuclear-fuel cycle, but for other possible misbehaviour, including efforts to make poison gas or deadly germs, Mr Ekeus had to recruit his own team of experts. The Economist, "How Iraq was deprived of its weapons of mass destruction," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

But unlike marathon runners who fuel up on carbs before a run, sailors have different endurance strategies. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "How 5 Port Huron-to-Mackinac racers feed sailboat crews," 13 July 2018 Fed officials are raising rates to prevent the expanding economy from fueling excessive inflation or asset bubbles. Nick Timiraos, WSJ, "Cleveland Fed President: Strong Economy Justifies Two More Interest Rate Increases This Year," 12 July 2018 And that's exactly what Blair did — and her thread’s enthusiastic followers fueled the flames. Rosemary Donahue, Allure, "The Problem With "Plane Bae" and Using Strangers for Entertainment," 11 July 2018 Slavery was at the center of America’s birth, fueled its economic growth and cost hundreds of thousands of lives in a war that threatened the country’s survival. The Seattle Times, "Artifacts of injustice," 11 July 2018 But add pollution — the phosphorus and nitrogen from farm fields and leaky septic tanks — and good turns to bad, fueling explosive blooms. Jenny Staletovich, miamiherald, "What’s an algae bloom and how did it wind up sliming Florida’s biggest lake?," 10 July 2018 Escalating tensions with the U.S. exacerbated growing concerns about the fallout from a slowing Chinese economy, fueling a climate of uncertainty. Ian Mount, Fortune, "Chinese Smartphone Maker Xiaomi’s Monster IPO Flops on Its First Day of Trading," 9 July 2018 Plantioxidants also has a mail-back program, which Wadinski hopes will help fuel innovation to make recycling cosmetics containers easier in the long run. Jessica Cruel, SELF, "You Should Be Recycling Your Beauty Products—10 Things You Need to Know," 7 July 2018 In each country, conflict may be fuelled largely by local grievances. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 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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Learn More about fuel

Phrases Related to fuel

fuel economy

fuel up

Statistics for fuel

Last Updated

9 Oct 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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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