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.

Example Sentences

the office manager greeted the corporate bigwigs with an oleaginous welcome that should have embarrassed him
Recent Examples on the Web Ted Cruz, the perennial front-runner, is smug and oleaginous—hated equally by his colleagues and the public. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 26 Sep. 2022 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 The latest incident of the Trump coterie casting new light on previously routine corruption in Washington came earlier this month, courtesy not of Trump himself, but of his oleaginous son-in-law. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 20 Apr. 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 The administration’s effort to promote Saudi Arabia as a regional proxy, to help effect its withdrawal, is also somehow oleaginous. The Economist, 23 Apr. 2020 See More

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

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 21 Mar. 2023.

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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