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[noun grees; verb grees, greez] /noun gris; verb gris, griz/
the melted or rendered fat of animals, especially when in a soft state.
fatty or oily matter in general; lubricant.
Also called grease wool. wool, as shorn, before being cleansed of the oily matter.
Also called grease-heel
[grees-heel] /ˈgrisˌhil/ (Show IPA)
. Veterinary Pathology. inflammation of a horse's skin in the fetlock region, attended with an oily secretion.
Informal. a bribe.
verb (used with object), greased, greasing.
to put grease on; lubricate:
to grease the axle of a car.
to smear or cover with grease.
to cause to occur easily; smooth the way; facilitate.
Informal. to bribe.
grease someone's palm. palm1 (def 19).
Origin of grease
1250-1300; Middle English grese, grece, greice < Anglo-French grece, gresse, Old French craisse (French graisse) < Vulgar Latin *crassia, equivalent to Latin crass(us) fat, thick + -ia noun suffix
Related forms
greaseless, adjective
greaselessness, noun
greaseproof, adjective
regrease, verb (used with object), regreased, regreasing.
ungreased, adjective
well-greased, adjective
Can be confused
grease, Greece. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for grease


noun (ɡriːs; ɡriːz)
animal fat in a soft or melted condition
any thick fatty oil, esp one used as a lubricant for machinery, etc
Also called grease wool. shorn fleece before it has been cleaned
(vet science) Also called seborrhoea. inflammation of the skin of horses around the fetlocks, usually covered with an oily secretion
verb (transitive) (ɡriːz; ɡriːs)
to soil, coat, or lubricate with grease
to ease the course of: his education greased his path to success
(slang) grease the palm of, grease the hand of, to bribe; influence by giving money to
Derived Forms
greaseless, adjective
Word Origin
C13: from Old French craisse, from Latin crassus thick
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for grease

c.1300, from Anglo-French grece, from Old French gresse, craisse "grease, fat" (Modern French graisse), from Vulgar Latin *crassia "(melted) animal fat, grease," from Latin crassus "thick, solid, fat" (cf. Spanish grasa, Italian grassa). Grease paint, used by actors, attested from 1888. Grease monkey "mechanic" is from 1928.


c.1300, from grease (n.). Sense of "ply with bribe or protection money" is 1520s, from notion of grease the wheels "make things run smoothly" (mid-15c.). To grease (someone's) palm is from 1580s. Expression greased lightning, representing something that goes very fast, is American English, by 1832.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for grease



  1. Money (1800s+)
  2. Bribe or protection money; money given for corrupt purposes: They get so much grease it takes them half a block just to change direction (1823+)
  3. Butter (WWII Army)
  4. Food (Persian Gulf War Army)
  5. A gun: You handled the grease real good, but not good enough, you didn't kill them


To shoot, esp to kill by shooting: He has a gun and might try to grease you (WWII armed forces)

Related Terms

axle grease, elbow grease, grease someone's palm

[the verb to grease, ''to bribe,'' is found by 1557; last two senses fr greasegun, a WWII submachine gun]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with grease
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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