late 12c., "olive oil," from Anglo-French and Old North French olie, from Old French oile, uile "oil" (12c., Modern French huile), from Latin oleum "oil, olive oil" (source of Spanish, Italian olio), from Greek elaion "olive tree," from elaia (see olive). Old English æle, Dutch olie, German Öl, etc. all are from Latin. It meant "olive oil" exclusively till c.1300, when meaning began to be extended to any fatty, greasy substance. Use for "petroleum" first recorded 1520s, but not common until 19c. The artist's oils (1660s), short for oil-color (1530s), are paints made by grinding pigment in oil.
mid-15c., from oil (n.). Related: Oiled; oiling. An Old English verb in this sense was besmyrian.
Any of numerous mineral, vegetable, and synthetic substances and animal and vegetable fats that are generally slippery, combustible, viscous, liquid or liquefiable at room temperatures, soluble in various organic solvents such as ether but not in water, and used in a great variety of products, especially lubricants and fuels.
Any of a large class of viscous liquids that are typically very slippery and greasy. Oils are composed mostly of glycerides. They are flammable, do not mix with water, and include animal and vegetable fats as well as substances of mineral or synthetic origin. They are used in food, soap, and candles, and make good lubricants and fuels. See essential oil, mineral oil, petroleum.
To calm a disturbance: “His ideas caused real dissension within the party at first, but he poured oil on troubled waters in last night's speech.”
Note: In ancient times, oil was often poured on ocean waves to calm turbulence, a practice that would be denounced today.
: We'll have to oil the mayor to get that permit
Only olive oil seems to have been used among the Hebrews. It was used for many purposes: for anointing the body or the hair (Ex. 29:7; 2 Sam. 14:2; Ps. 23:5; 92:10; 104:15; Luke 7:46); in some of the offerings (Ex. 29:40; Lev. 7:12; Num. 6:15; 15:4), but was excluded from the sin-offering (Lev. 5:11) and the jealousy-offering (Num. 5:15); for burning in lamps (Ex. 25:6; 27:20; Matt. 25:3); for medicinal purposes (Isa. 1:6; Luke 10:34; James 5:14); and for anointing the dead (Matt. 26:12; Luke 23:56). It was one of the most valuable products of the country (Deut. 32:13; Ezek. 16:13), and formed an article of extensive commerce with Tyre (27:17). The use of it was a sign of gladness (Ps. 92:10; Isa. 61:3), and its omission a token of sorrow (2 Sam. 14:2; Matt. 6:17). It was very abundant in Galilee. (See OLIVE.)