pet·​rol | \ ˈpe-trəl How to pronounce petrol (audio) , -ˌträl\

Definition of petrol

chiefly British

Examples of petrol in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Second, automakers are struggling to comply with the government’s new policies, including a total ban on polluting petrol and diesel vehicles, forcing them to discontinue some old models. Niharika Sharma, Quartz India, "Car dealerships in Delhi wear a deserted look as there’s no end to India’s auto blues," 20 June 2019 These savings are based on the current cost of running Nigeria’s electricity grid supported by petrol or diesel generators used by businesses and households. Samuel Ayokunle Olowosejeje, Quartz Africa, "Nigeria’s unreliable electricity costs its economy $29 billion a year—solar power would save billions," 1 June 2019 Early editions of the guide included restaurant listings jumbled with other information useful to the motorist: hotels, petrol stations, road maps. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "The Michelin Guide’s Not Entirely Welcome Return to L.A.," 5 June 2019 But the president-elect has also made expensive promises, including to freeze petrol and electricity prices in real terms, to subsidise agriculture, to pay for scholarships and to expand pensions. The Economist, "Will AMLO deliver?," 5 July 2018 Fuel suppliers have cut the price of petrol to encourage people to vote. Joe Parkinson, WSJ, "Nigeria to Vote After Delay Brings New Conflict," 21 Feb. 2019 Highway patrolmen are told not to fill their petrol tanks to save funds. The Economist, "Education in AmericaWhat’s the matter with Oklahoma?," 30 Jan. 2018 Flares, rocks and even petrol bombs were flung at the British ships and many in the UK have even gone as far as calling for warships to step in and protect the fishing fleet. Sam Webb, Fox News, "British fisherman call on Navy to protect them from aggressive French rivals in 'Scallop Wars'," 30 Aug. 2018 Fuel prices have been raised: the cost of the lowest-grade petrol is up by 83%. The Economist, "Taxing timesA new levy is one step towards fixing Saudi Arabia’s fiscal woes," 13 Jan. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of petrol

1895, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for petrol

borrowed from French pétrole "petroleum, any of various products distilled from petroleum," going back to Old French petteroile, petrole "mineral oil, petroleum," borrowed from Medieval Latin petroleum — more at petroleum

Note: The use of the word in English is apparently owed to a cooperative endeavor by the British distilling and oil refining firm Carless, Capel and Leonard and the engineer Frederick Richard Simms, who had purchased the rights to Gottlieb Daimler's gasoline-powered engine. Though an attempt to register petrol as a trademark was unsuccessful, Carless, Capel and Leonard continued to use it as a marketing name. Note that French pétrole (rather than essence de pétrole) is used for distilled petroleum products by Gustave Richard in Les nouveaux moteurs à gaz et à pétrole (Paris, 1892). The now usual French word essence for "gasoline" is shortened from essence de pétrole.

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about petrol

Statistics for petrol

Last Updated

24 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for petrol

The first known use of petrol was in 1895

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on petrol

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with petrol

Nglish: Translation of petrol for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of petrol for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about petrol

Comments on petrol

What made you want to look up petrol? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to take the place or position of

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!