See more synonyms for fuel on Thesaurus.com
  1. combustible matter used to maintain fire, as coal, wood, oil, or gas, in order to create heat or power.
  2. something that gives nourishment; food.
  3. an energy source for engines, power plants, or reactors: Kerosene is used as jet engine fuel.
  4. something that sustains or encourages; stimulant: Our discussion provided him with fuel for debate.
verb (used with object), fu·eled, fu·el·ing or (especially British) fu·elled, fu·el·ling.
  1. to supply with fuel.
verb (used without object), fu·eled, fu·el·ing or (especially British) fu·elled, fu·el·ling.
  1. to obtain or replenish fuel.

Origin of fuel

1300–50; Middle English fuel(le), feuel < Old French feuaile < Vulgar Latin *focālia, neuter plural of *focālis of the hearth, fuel. See focus, -al1
Related formsfu·el·er; (especially British) fu·el·ler, nounde·fu·el, verb (used with object), de·fu·eled, de·fu·el·ing or (especially British) de·fu·elled, de·fu·el·ling.non·fu·el, adjectiveun·fu·eled; (especially British) un·fu·elled, adjectivewell-fu·eled; (especially British) well-fu·elled, adjective

Synonyms for fuel

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fuel

Contemporary Examples of fuel

Historical Examples of fuel

  • Yates gathered some fuel, and managed to coax the dying embers into a blaze.

  • Fuel consumption is a prime factor in the production of engine power.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • Every once in a while women threw armfuls of fuel on the blaze.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • The fuel for the mission house is brought from the South by the steamer.

  • The fuel must be power-charged to safely handle the weight and time quotients.

    The Big Tomorrow

    Paul Lohrman

British Dictionary definitions for fuel


  1. any substance burned as a source of heat or power, such as coal or petrol
    1. the material, containing a fissile substance, such as uranium-235, that produces energy in a nuclear reactor
    2. a substance that releases energy in a fusion reactor
  2. something that nourishes or builds up emotion, action, etc
verb fuels, fuelling or fuelled or US fuels, fueling or fueled
  1. to supply with or receive fuel
Derived Formsfueller or US fueler, noun

Word Origin for fuel

C14: from Old French feuaile, from feu fire, ultimately from Latin focus fireplace, hearth
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 fuel

early 14c., from Old French foaile "bundle of firewood," from Vulgar Latin legal term *focalia "right to demand material for making fire," neuter plural of Latin focalis "pertaining to a hearth," from focus "hearth" (see focus). Figurative use from 1570s.


1590s, from fuel (n.). Related: Fueled; fueling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

fuel in Science


  1. A substance that produces useful energy when it undergoes a chemical or nuclear reaction. Fuel such as coal, wood, oil, or gas provides energy when burned. Compounds in the body such as glucose are broken down into simpler compounds to provide energy for metabolic processes. Some radioactive substances, such as plutonium and tritium, provide energy by undergoing nuclear fission or fusion.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with fuel


see add fuel to the fire.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.