petroleum

play
noun pe·tro·leum \pə-ˈtrō-lē-əm, -ˈtrōl-yəm\

Definition of petroleum

  1. :  an oily flammable bituminous liquid that may vary from almost colorless to black, occurs in many places in the upper strata of the earth, is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons with small amounts of other substances, and is prepared for use as gasoline, naphtha, or other products by various refining processes

Recent Examples of petroleum from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of petroleum

Middle English, from Medieval Latin, from Latin petr- + oleum oil — more at oil


First Known Use: 15th century


PETROLEUM Defined for English Language Learners

petroleum

play
noun

Definition of petroleum for English Language Learners

  • : a kind of oil that comes from below the ground and that is the source of gasoline and other products


PETROLEUM Defined for Kids

petroleum

play
noun pe·tro·leum \pə-ˈtrō-lē-əm, -ˈtrōl-yəm\

Definition of petroleum for Students

  1. :  a raw oil that is obtained from wells drilled in the ground and that is the source of gasoline, kerosene, and other oils used for fuel


Medical Dictionary

petroleum

play
noun pe·tro·leum \pə-ˈtrō-lē-əm, -ˈtrōl-yəm\

Medical Definition of petroleum

  1. :  an oily flammable bituminous liquid that may vary from almost colorless to black, occurs in many places in the upper strata of the earth, is a complex mixture of hydrocarbons with small amounts of other substances, and is prepared for use as gasoline, naphtha, or other products by various refining processes



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

the point at which something begins

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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