or ker·o·sine

[ker-uh-seen, kar-, ker-uh-seen, kar-]


a mixture of liquid hydrocarbons obtained by distilling petroleum, bituminous shale, or the like, and widely used as a fuel, cleaning solvent, etc.


using or fueled by kerosene: a kerosene lamp.

Origin of kerosene

1852; irregular < Greek kērós wax + -ene; formerly trademark Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for kerosene

gasoline, gas, fuel, petrol, kerosene, naphtha

Examples from the Web for kerosene

Contemporary Examples of kerosene

Historical Examples of kerosene

  • They were all settin' purrin' in the dark, because they'd forgot to send for any kerosene.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • It seemed to her as if the whole world were nothing but kerosene.

    Pee-wee Harris

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • She was at the kerosene; oh, it makes me just sick to think of it.

    Pee-wee Harris

    Percy Keese Fitzhugh

  • It was believed that this supply had been shipped as kerosene from Saloniki to Piraeus.

  • The bottle was filled with kerosene, and in a jiffy the box was covered with the flame.

    The Book of Khalid

    Ameen Rihani

British Dictionary definitions for kerosene




Also called: paraffin a liquid mixture consisting mainly of alkane hydrocarbons with boiling points in the range 150°–300°C, used as an aircraft fuel, in domestic heaters, and as a solvent
the general name for paraffin as a fuel for jet aircraft

Word Origin for kerosene

C19: from Greek kēros wax + -ene


The spelling kerosine is now the preferred form in technical and industrial usage
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 kerosene

1852, coined irregularly by Canadian geologist Abraham Gesner (1797-1864), who discovered how to distill it c.1846, from Greek keros "wax" + chemical suffix -ene. So called because it contains paraffin (hence the British English name, paraffin oil).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

kerosene in Science



A thin, light-colored oil that is a mixture of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum. The hydrocarbons in kerosene contain between 11 and 12 carbon atoms. Kerosene is used as a fuel in lamps, home heaters and furnaces, and jet engines.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.