ole·​ag·​i·​nous ˌō-lē-ˈa-jə-nəs How to pronounce oleaginous (audio)
: resembling or having the properties of oil : oily
also : containing or producing oil
: marked by an offensively ingratiating manner or quality
oleaginously adverb
oleaginousness noun

Did you know?

The oily oleaginous slipped into English via Middle French oleagineux, coming from Latin oleagineus, meaning "of an olive tree." Oleagineus itself is from Latin olea, meaning "olive tree," and ultimately from Greek elaia, meaning "olive." Oleaginous was at first used in a literal sense, as it still can be. An oleaginous substance is simply oily, and an oleaginous plant produces oil. The word took on its extended "ingratiating" sense in the 19th century.

Examples of oleaginous in a Sentence

the office manager greeted the corporate bigwigs with an oleaginous welcome that should have embarrassed him
Recent Examples on the Web At any moment, the noodles might dissolve, the cheese topping burn, the dish collapse into a soggy, oleaginous mess. Isaac Butler, The New Yorker, 1 Dec. 2023 The interludes make for juicy lampoons of that unfortunate Western export, oleaginous showbiz faux-intimacy. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 21 June 2022 The French state is represented effectively here by oleaginous High Commissioner De Roller (Magimel), a European long based in Tahiti. Leslie Felperin, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 May 2022 After tapping the oleaginous Gaetz, Biden said that crude from the Florida congressman could start flowing throughout the United States by the end of the week. Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker, 23 Nov. 2021 The same goes for the oleaginous Uriah Heep (Ben Whishaw), the legal clerk who can worm into people’s brains, as if into their guts, with his show of humility. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 28 Aug. 2020 And there is the womanizing Mr. Mantalini, whose gift for oleaginous flattery always persuades his long-suffering wife to take him back. Washington Post, 30 Apr. 2020 Eggplant sponges up so much olive oil in the traditional caponata recipe that the end result often is a caponata that is cloyingly oleaginous. Bill St. John, The Denver Post, 26 June 2019

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'oleaginous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Middle French oleagineux, from Latin oleagineus of an olive tree, from olea olive tree, from Greek elaia

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of oleaginous was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near oleaginous

Cite this Entry

“Oleaginous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/oleaginous. Accessed 20 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


ole·​ag·​i·​nous ˌō-lē-ˈaj-ə-nəs How to pronounce oleaginous (audio)
: resembling or having the properties of oil
also : containing or producing oil
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