noun, often attributive
\ ˈȯi(-ə)l How to pronounce oil (audio) \

Definition of oil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : any of numerous unctuous combustible substances that are liquid or can be liquefied easily on warming, are soluble in ether but not in water, and leave a greasy stain on paper or cloth
b(1) : petroleum
(2) : the petroleum industry
2 : a substance (such as a cosmetic preparation) of oily consistency bath oil
3a : an oil color used by an artist
b : a painting done in oil colors
4 : unctuous or flattering speech


oiled; oiling; oils

Definition of oil (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to smear, rub over, furnish, or lubricate with oil

intransitive verb

: to take on fuel oil
oil the hand or oil the palm
: bribe, tip

Synonyms for oil

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of oil in a Sentence

Noun The price of crude oil is expected to rise. We heat our house with oil. A little bit of oil will help lubricate the chain. Add a little oil to the pan and stir-fry the onions. The dressing is made with oil, vinegar, and a pinch of herbs. Verb He oiled the bearings of the machine. if you oil the machinery on a regular basis, it will operate more efficiently See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun If oil prices drop below around $74 per barrel, the Constitutional Budget Reserve would also be emptied. Iris Samuels, Anchorage Daily News, 11 May 2022 European Union ambassadors again failed to reach an agreement to ban Russian oil, because Hungary has resisted the adoption of the embargo. New York Times, 10 May 2022 The president initially said the crisis wasn’t created by him, laying the blame on global factors such as the pandemic’s impact on the tourism industry and higher global oil prices caused by the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The Christian Science Monitor, 10 May 2022 Leaders from the Group of Seven, including the United States, pledged Sunday to ban the import of Russian oil and impose a new round of sanctions. Celina Tebor, USA TODAY, 9 May 2022 The commission offered Hungary and Slovakia 20 months to stop importing Russian oil. Laurence Norman, WSJ, 9 May 2022 The sale follows a months-long effort by Abramovich, who built his fortune in Russian oil, to broker a peace deal between Ukraine and Russia. Washington Post, 7 May 2022 Hungary would need at least five years and massive investment on infrastructure in order to manage without Russian oil, Orban said. Robert Hart, Forbes, 6 May 2022 The European Union has proposed banning Russian oil by the end of the year as a way to squeeze Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine. Ben Kamisar, NBC News, 4 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb How quickly can oil from the reserve enter the market? NBC News, 1 Apr. 2022 Didn't drip down, didn't oil up, and really helped to keep sun exposure to a minimum. Susan Brickell, Health.com, 13 May 2021 Simply oil your measuring spoons and cups before measuring sticky ingredients. Bon Appétit, 14 Mar. 2022 Global markets for everything from stocks to oil to wheat are recording some of the most extreme price swings in decades. WSJ, 28 Feb. 2022 The disruption to oil in particular is concerning to investors. Cnn Business, CNN, 28 Feb. 2022 For example, not only can oil suffocate animals, but its presence on bird feathers can prevent them from flying. Priya Shukla, Forbes, 3 Oct. 2021 Lightly oil the outside of the sweet potatoes and bake until soft, 30-35 minutes. San Antonio Express-News, 16 Nov. 2021 Don’t neglect to clean, sharpen and oil your pruners, Edmunds said. oregonlive, 8 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'oil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of oil


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for oil


Middle English oile, from Anglo-French, from Latin oleum olive oil, from Greek elaion, from elaia olive

Learn More About oil

Time Traveler for oil

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for oil

Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Oil.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oil. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for oil


\ ˈȯil How to pronounce oil (audio) \

Kids Definition of oil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of numerous greasy usually liquid substances from plant, animal, or mineral sources that do not dissolve in water and are used especially as lubricants, fuels, and food
2 : petroleum
3 : paint made of pigments and oil
4 : a painting done in oils


oiled; oiling

Kids Definition of oil (Entry 2 of 2)

: to rub on or lubricate with a greasy substance


\ ˈȯi(ə)l How to pronounce oil (audio) \

Medical Definition of oil

1 : any of numerous unctuous combustible substances that are liquid or can be liquefied easily on warming, are soluble in ether but not in water, and leave a greasy stain on paper or cloth — see essential oil, fatty oil, volatile oil
2 : a substance (as a cosmetic preparation) of oily consistency bath oil

Other Words from oil

oil adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on oil

Nglish: Translation of oil for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of oil for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about oil


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