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

The delivery adds fuel to a growing industry intent of using drones to supply medicine to the developing world. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "Drone-Delivered Vaccines Are Launching a New Era of Health Aid," 18 Dec. 2018 The letter comes as the death of three southern resident orcas in four months last summer, one from L pod and two in J pod, have added fuel to the long running-campaign to free the Snake. Lynda V. Mapes, The Seattle Times, "Orca survival may be impossible without Lower Snake River dam removal, scientists say," 15 Oct. 2018 President Donald Trump added fuel to the fire, blaming the Federal Reserve for continuing to hike a benchmark rate that affects both business and consumer loans. Recode Staff, Recode, "Recode Daily: Silicon Valley may have a Saudi Arabia problem," 12 Oct. 2018 To add fuel to the fire, Bobby had no background in country music and quickly earned a reputation for being outspoken. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Why 'Dancing With the Stars' Cast Member Bobby Bones Is So Controversial," 24 Sep. 2018 Natural gas is less expensive and considered more environmentally friendly than oil fuel, and Con Edison has converted 2,900 Westchester... Kate King, WSJ, "Con Ed Riles Westchester With Moratorium on Natural-Gas Hookups," 31 Jan. 2019 The popular eating plan advises breaking down your daily calories into about 70% fats, 20% protein, and 10% carbs in order to enter a metabolic state called ketosis, where your body burns fat for energy instead of its preferred fuel, carbohydrates. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "9 Keto Diet Dangers Nutritionists Want You to Know About," 2 Jan. 2019 Sagittarians' spirited energy fuels their passions and curiosities. Allure, "How the Sun's Position In Your Birth Chart Affects Your Zodiac Sign," 14 Aug. 2018 This fuel, combined with hot temperatures, high winds and low humidity, create conditions (that) are conducive to easily ignited and fast-burning wildfires. Alex Riggins, sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego fire department to increase staffing in anticipation of weekend heatwave," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Daily stock moves have fallen sharply following last quarter’s volatility, stoking worries that the market is losing momentum after a shift by the Federal Reserve fueled the recent rally. Amrith Ramkumar, WSJ, "Tiny Stock Moves Fuel Jitters About Market Momentum," 7 Mar. 2019 This is similar to fuel air explosive weapons, which disperse a flammable mist outside the body of the munition before detonating. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Rectangular, Computerized Grenade Puts a New Spin on the Flashbang," 28 Feb. 2019 Over a late-night conversation on Skype, Willow opened up about learning to own her power, how the racist history of feminism breaks her heart, and how gender roles and the expectations of others fueled her to push for lasting change. Rachel Elizabeth Cargle, Harper's BAZAAR, "Willow Smith Opens Up About What the Future of Feminism Actually Looks Like," 19 Feb. 2019 That campaign helped fuel violent persecution that led to thousands of Rohingya deaths. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Sorry Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook isn’t a “positive force”," 21 Nov. 2018 That hasn’t stopped the 23-year-old digital strategist from Florida from sending $2 a month for the past year to help fuel the campaign of El Paso Congressman Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic challenger to Republican U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz. Kevin Diaz And Alejandra Matos, San Antonio Express-News, "O’Rourke vs. Cruz draws millions in contributions from outside of Texas," 11 July 2018 On the Santa Barbara County coast, powerful sundowner winds helped fuel the Holiday fire, which burned several homes Friday night in the hills above Goleta and threatened more than 100 others, according to the Santa Barbara County Fire Department. Hailey Branson-potts, latimes.com, "Homes destroyed by fires and temperature records shattered as heat wave slams Southern California," 7 July 2018 On the mound dominance (Photo: Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel) Pius’ team era was 2.09 entering play Friday, a number fueled by the team’s Big Three of lefty Sam Treffert and right-handers TJ Driver and Kayde Thiele. Mark Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "With hitting, pitching and chemistry, Pius XI is ready for run to the state tournament," 6 July 2018 While the drive to eliminate cash is fueled partly by capitalism’s impulse to wring waste out of the system, it is also propelled by consumers’ desire to make their lives easier. Town & Country, "Is This the End of Cash?," 28 Jan. 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

27 Feb 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

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a shady place in a garden or forest

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