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



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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Environmental groups are blasting plans by the Army Corps of Engineers to dredge 13 miles of waterways inside the Golden Gate because the work would benefit ships delivering oil to East Bay refineries. Taylor Kate Brown, SFChronicle.com, "Bay Briefing: Super-commuters find ways to get away from gridlock," 2 Dec. 2019 Deep-frying, however, traps these tissues in the fish, and re-using cooking oil can increase contamination levels. Dennis Pillion | Dpillion@al.com, al, "Are Alabama fish safe to eat? Here’s how the state decides," 2 Dec. 2019 Then there are the recent oil pipeline spills in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, as well as rollbacks that have permitted the reintroduction of coal sludge into streams and rivers. Chuck Yarborough, cleveland, "True-life legal thriller ‘Dark Waters’ serves as a warning similar shoals may lie ahead," 2 Dec. 2019 After moving toward a public offering for nearly three years, Saudi Aramco — Saudi Arabia's state oil monopoly — will price shares for an initial public offering due later this month. Julia Horowitz, CNN, "Will 2019 produce the biggest IPO ever?," 1 Dec. 2019 Taking marijuana from a small cutting to dried flower ready to be sold or transformed into edible gummies or oils takes months. Author: David Eggert, Kathleen Foody, Anchorage Daily News, "Michigan, Illinois set to usher in recreational pot sales," 1 Dec. 2019 Some customs practiced are: preparing potato pancakes in oil, playing the game of dreidel, and giving children money (coins) called Hanukkah gelt. The Rev. Ellin Dize, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Dize: Jesus is the reason for the season and Christmas is an inclusive holiday," 30 Nov. 2019 The area has the highest concentration of oil refineries in the nation, and has been repeatedly rocked by dangerous accidents over the past year. Audrey Mcnamara, CBS News, "50,000 people allowed back home after blasts at chemical plant in Texas," 30 Nov. 2019 Guests included Harry’s ex Demi Moore, Lori Loughlin, Mossimo Giannulli, actor Stephen Dorff and oil heir Brandon Davis. Helen Murphy, PEOPLE.com, "Lori Loughlin, Demi Moore & More Attend Harry Morton's Memorial a Week After Restaurateur's Death," 30 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Carefully slide the fish onto the preheated, oiled grill, on the side opposite the fire. Jess Fleming, Twin Cities, "Grill a whole side of fish for maximum wow factor," 3 July 2019 Able to operate from the left wing or just behind the front three, his creativity would add an extra dimension to a Liverpool midfield that is well-oiled but lacks a little dynamism. SI.com, "Philippe Coutinho: 5 Reasons Liverpool Should Have Pursued a Loan Move for Their Former Star," 10 Aug. 2019 In November, Mark posted a pic of himself from Riverdale all oiled up, and Kelly couldn't resist. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Fans Freak Out After Kelly Ripa Writes Sexy 'Riverdale' Comment on Mark Consuelos’ Instagram," 31 Jan. 2019 Denver has already tried other geese management tactics included oiling their eggs, spraying repellants and creating visual barriers to discourage geese from nesting. Michelle Lou, CNN, "Denver is rounding up its Canada geese -- to turn them into food for the needy," 2 July 2019 Hence, for those same thousands of years, methods of curing them (drying, salting, washing, oiling) have fermented out most of the bitterness. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, "Marinating olives, Sicilian style and simply," 12 June 2019 Each hog gets an application of Martin’s spice blend, and their skins are salted and oiled. Eric Velasco, al.com, "Meet the crew who makes Birmingham’s barbecue," 3 June 2019 Lightly oil a large (10-by-15-inch) glass or metal baking dish. Arrange chicken, skin-side down, in dish. Adina Steiman, WSJ, "Eat Like a Model (And Still Be Satisfied)," 13 Sep. 2018 Dressed in a suit with pink tie, pocket handkerchief and sporting long hair, Gilfry seemed a kind of oily Elmer Gantry, further oiled by Aucoin's busily ingratiating chamber orchestra accompaniment. Mark Swed, latimes.com, "Walt Whitman's operatic America in 'Crossing' gets its West Coast premiere," 27 May 2018

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.

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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

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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

5 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Oil.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oil?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=o&file=oil00001. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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More Definitions for oil


How to pronounce oil (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of oil

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a thick, black liquid that comes from the ground and that is used in making various products (such as gasoline)
: a type of oil that is used as a fuel to produce heat or light
: a type of oil that makes the different parts in an engine, machine, etc., run smoothly



English Language Learners Definition of oil (Entry 2 of 2)

: to put oil in or on (something)


\ 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
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on oil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for oil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with oil

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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