- 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.
- a substance of this or similar consistency.
- refined or crude petroleum.
- Informal. unctuous hypocrisy; flattery.
- an oilskin garment.
- Australian and New Zealand Slang. facts or news; information: good oil.
- to smear, lubricate, or supply with oil.
- to bribe.
- to make unctuous or smooth: to oil his words.
- to convert into oil by melting, as butter.
- pertaining to or resembling oil.
- using oil, especially as a fuel: an oil furnace.
- concerned with the production or use of oil: an offshore oil rig.
- made with oil.
- obtained from oil.
- pour oil on troubled waters, to attempt to calm a difficult or tense situation, as an argument.
- strike oil,
- to discover oil, especially to bring in a well.
- to have good luck, especially financially; make an important and valuable discovery: They struck oil only after years of market research.
Origin of oil
- 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 chemicalsSee also essential oil, fixed oil
- another name for petroleum
- (as modifier)an oil engine; an oil rig
- Also called: lubricating oilany of a number of substances usually derived from petroleum and used for lubrication
- (in combination)an oilcan; an oilstone
- (as modifier)an oil pump
- Also called: fuel oil a petroleum product used as a fuel in domestic heating, industrial furnaces, marine engines, etc
- paraffin, esp when used as a domestic fuel
- (as modifier)an oil lamp; an oil stove
- any substance of a consistency resembling that of oiloil of vitriol
- the solvent, usually linseed oil, with which pigments are mixed to make artists' paints
- (often plural)oil colour or paint
- (as modifier)an oil painting
- an oil painting
- the good oil or the dinkum oil Australian and NZ slang facts or news
- strike oil
- to discover petroleum while drilling for it
- informalto become very rich or successful
- to lubricate, smear, polish, etc, with oil or an oily substance
- informal to bribe (esp in the phrase oil someone's palm)
- oil the wheels to make things run smoothly
- See well-oiled
Word Origin for oil
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.
pour oil on troubled waters
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.”
pour oil on troubled waters
Soothe or calm down something or someone, as in The twins are quarreling so I'd best go pour oil on troubled waters. This term alludes to an ancient practice of pouring oil on ocean waves to calm their turbulence, which was mentioned in the eighth century. [Mid-1800s]
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).