View synonyms for oil


[ oil ]


  1. any of a large class of substances typically unctuous, viscous, combustible, liquid at ordinary temperatures, and soluble in ether or alcohol but not in water: used for anointing, perfuming, lubricating, illuminating, heating, etc.
  2. a substance of this or similar consistency.
  3. refined or crude petroleum.
  4. Painting.
  5. Informal. unctuous hypocrisy; flattery.
  6. an oilskin garment.
  7. Australian and New Zealand Slang. facts or news; information:

    good oil.

verb (used with object)

  1. to smear, lubricate, or supply with oil.
  2. to bribe.
  3. to make unctuous or smooth:

    to oil his words.

  4. to convert into oil by melting, as butter.


  1. pertaining to or resembling oil.
  2. using oil, especially as a fuel:

    an oil furnace.

  3. concerned with the production or use of oil:

    an offshore oil rig.

  4. made with oil.
  5. obtained from oil.


/ ɔɪl /


  1. any of a number of viscous liquids with a smooth sticky feel. They are usually flammable, insoluble in water, soluble in organic solvents, and are obtained from plants and animals, from mineral deposits, and by synthesis. They are used as lubricants, fuels, perfumes, foodstuffs, and raw materials for chemicals See also essential oil fixed oil
    1. another name for petroleum
    2. ( as modifier )

      an oil engine

      an oil rig

    1. Also calledlubricating oil any of a number of substances usually derived from petroleum and used for lubrication
    2. ( in combination )

      an oilcan

      an oilstone

    3. ( as modifier )

      an oil pump

  2. Also calledfuel oil a petroleum product used as a fuel in domestic heating, industrial furnaces, marine engines, etc
    1. paraffin, esp when used as a domestic fuel
    2. ( as modifier )

      an oil lamp

      an oil stove

  3. any substance of a consistency resembling that of oil

    oil of vitriol

  4. the solvent, usually linseed oil, with which pigments are mixed to make artists' paints
    1. often plural oil colour or paint
    2. ( as modifier )

      an oil painting

  5. an oil painting
  6. the good oil or the dinkum oil slang.
    facts or news
  7. strike oil
    1. to discover petroleum while drilling for it
    2. to become very rich or successful


  1. to lubricate, smear, polish, etc, with oil or an oily substance
  2. informal.
    to bribe (esp in the phrase oil someone's palm )
  3. oil the wheels
    to make things run smoothly


/ oil /

  1. 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.

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Derived Forms

  • ˈoil-ˌlike, adjective

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Other Words From

  • oilless adjective
  • oilless·ness noun
  • oillike adjective
  • re·oil verb
  • self-oiling adjective
  • un·oiling adjective

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Word History and Origins

Origin of oil1

1125–75; Middle English olie, oile < Old French < Latin oleum, olīvum (olive) oil < *oleivum ( Deus ) < dialectal Greek *élaiwon ( Attic élaion ), derivative of *elaíwā olive

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Word History and Origins

Origin of oil1

C12: from Old French oile, from Latin oleum (olive) oil, from olea olive tree, from Greek elaia olive

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. pour oil on troubled waters, to attempt to calm a difficult or tense situation, as an argument.
  2. strike oil,
    1. to discover oil, especially to bring in a well.
    2. to have good luck, especially financially; make an important and valuable discovery:

      They struck oil only after years of market research.

More idioms and phrases containing oil

see banana oil ; burn the midnight oil ; grease (oil) someone's palm ; grease (oil) the wheels ; pour oil on troubled waters ; strike it rich (oil) .

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Example Sentences

Do be cautious, as a splatter of oil or a little too much sugar so close to the heating element can go up in flames — in which case it’s time to turn off the broiler and open a few windows.

From Eater

In a medium skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until shimmering.

When it did, I’d rub its skin with salt, cracked spices, plenty of oil, and lemon zest.

From Eater

The last time the price of oil was this high, the US was about to confirm its first Covid-19 case.

From Quartz

When the time comes to hop back on the saddle, all the necessary moving parts are already tuned and oiled.

The State Department found that with high oil prices, the tar sands would be mined for oil, pipeline or no.

Pulling oil from the tar sands is costly, even more so when you tack transportation costs on top.

The focus here was on how fast oil would come out of the Canadian fields.

Total oil production figures include crude oil, natural gas liquids, and other liquid energy products.

On top of oil, the United States produces significantly more natural gas than Saudi Arabia.

In pursuing his alchemical researches, he discovered Prussian blue, and the animal oil which bears his name.

Movement to know that she was attired in appropriate costume—short frock, biped continuations and a mannish oil-skin hat.

A very small amount may be present after ingestion of large quantities of cod-liver oil or other fats.

Go carefully over the film with an oil-immersion lens, using a mechanical stage if available.

The unindustrious pupil imagines that “p” represents 8, and not “f” or “v,” and translates 1845 into “To pour oil” .


Related Words

Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

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




oikOil and water don't mix