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

As much as 80 percent of Iran’s retirement funds rely on government subsidies, which the documents refer to as unsustainable for not just pensions but for food products, drugs and fuel. Nick Kalman, Fox News, "Pension funds in Iran on brink of collapse amid US ‘maximum pressure’ campaign," 15 Sep. 2019 Brauer notes the shift from carburetors to fuel injectors made for simpler mechanics—and fewer hours of work on each vehicle. Wired, "The Shift to Electric Vehicles Propels a Strike Against GM," 17 Sep. 2019 Heyward is rounding into form as October approaches, helping fuel the streaking Cubs. Michael Shapiro, SI.com, "Gerrit Cole Gives the Astros a Scary-Good Look for October," 17 Sep. 2019 Research and the experiences of young people of color have taught us that police in schools create a toxic school climate and fuel the school-to-prison pipeline. Donna M. Owens, Essence, "Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley Tackles The ‘PUSHOUT’ Of Black Girls At School," 17 Sep. 2019 Forman makes his living compiling the data that fuel trivia questions and attends the convention every year. Bill Shaikin, Los Angeles Times, "Many try, but few finish, the world’s toughest baseball quiz," 17 Sep. 2019 Their only physical link to the rest of the world will be ships and aircraft scheduled to arrive every few months to restock food and fuel while swapping passengers. Shannon Hall, Scientific American, "Marooned: Researchers Will Freeze Their Ship into Arctic Ocean Ice for a Year," 17 Sep. 2019 Historic weather records also show climate change is leading to stronger spring storms that spur nutrient runoff from farms and lawns, which, in turn, fuel algae blooms in lakes. Keith Matheny, Freep.com, "Climate change transforming where fish in the Great Lakes region live," 16 Sep. 2019 Trilby Lundberg, publisher of the Lundberg Survey of U.S. fuel markets, also expects gas costs to increase, citing the spike in oil prices following the attack on the Abqaiq oil processing facility and a key oil field in Saudi Arabia. Megan Cerullo, CBS News, "U.S. gas prices expected to rise after Saudi Arabia attack," 16 Sep. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Say the name Brooklyn these days, and many people think of Jay-Z or Barclays Center or, most often, skyrocketing real estate prices fueled by gentrification. Paul Alexander, Washington Post, "The rise, fall and resurgence of Brooklyn," 17 Sep. 2019 The tweets Monday come after Democrats have sounded the cry for an impeachment investigation, fueled by allegations that Trump has obstructed justice and is profiting off of his time in office. Jeanine Santucci, USA TODAY, "Donald Trump says Democrats should look into Barack and Michelle Obama's books, Netflix deals," 17 Sep. 2019 Twisted, dark and fueled by rage, Venom tries to control the new and dangerous abilities that Eddie finds so intoxicating. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019 Rhinos are targeted by poachers, fueled by the belief in Asia that their horns cure various ailments. Faith Karimi And Bethlehem Feleke, CNN, "There are 2 northern white rhinos left worldwide. Scientists created embryos to save the animal from extinction," 12 Sep. 2019 Early keepers lit a flame fueled by pig lard and whale oil. Sarah Feldberg, SFChronicle.com, "Remember that viral lighthouse job? They got it," 12 Sep. 2019 What began as a rivalry between obscure startups with DraftKings’ arrival on the market in 2012 had become, within three years, a billion-dollar war, fueled by venture capital, that played out in living rooms across the country. Albert Chen, SI.com, "Billion Dollar Fantasy: Inside the War Between FanDuel and DraftKings that Rocked the Gambling Industry," 10 Sep. 2019 Saikawa’s quick move to oust Ghosn and denunciations of his alleged misdeeds fueled conspiracy theories about a palace coup or attempt to push France out. Washington Post, "Why Ghosn’s Back in Jail and What It Says About Japan," 18 Sep. 2019 Franklin and Armfield met a few years after that in the course of business and immediately developed a rapport, Rothman said - an intimacy that continued for decades and fueled their profitability. Hannah Natanson, Anchorage Daily News, "They were once America’s cruelest, richest slave traders. Why does no one know their names?," 17 Sep. 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

9 Oct 2019

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 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 bell tower

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