the carbonaceous material obtained by heating wood or other organic substances in the absence of air.
a drawing pencil of charcoal.
a drawing made with charcoal.

verb (used with object)

to blacken, write, or draw with charcoal.
to cook (food) over charcoal, especially on a grill.

verb (used without object)

to cook food over charcoal, especially on a grill.

Nearby words

  1. charas,
  2. charbroiled,
  3. charcas,
  4. charchemish,
  5. charco,
  6. charcoal burner,
  7. charcoal grey,
  8. charcoal rot,
  9. charcoal-burner,
  10. charcot

Origin of charcoal

1300–50; Middle English charcole, perhaps cherre char3 + cole coal, though literal sense of the compound is unclear

Related formschar·coal·y, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for charcoal

British Dictionary definitions for charcoal



a black amorphous form of carbon made by heating wood or other organic matter in the absence of air: used as a fuel, in smelting metal ores, in explosives, and as an absorbentSee activated carbon
a stick or pencil of this for drawing
a drawing done in charcoal
short for charcoal grey


(tr) to write, draw, or blacken with charcoal

Word Origin for charcoal

C14: from char (origin obscure) + coal

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

Word Origin and History for charcoal



mid-14c., charcole, first element is either Old French charbon "charcoal," or, on the current theory, obsolete charren "to turn" (from Old English cerran) + cole "coal," thus, "to turn to coal."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for charcoal




Carbon obtained by heating or burning organic material with restricted access of air.
Activated charcoal.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Science definitions for charcoal



A black porous form of carbon produced by heating wood or bone in little or no air. Charcoal is used as a fuel, for drawing, and in air and water filters.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.