from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. 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.
  • n. Petroleum.
  • n. A petroleum derivative, such as a machine oil or lubricant.
  • n. A substance with an oily consistency.
  • n. Oil paint.
  • n. A painting done in oil paint.
  • n. Insincere flattery.
  • transitive v. To lubricate, supply, cover, or polish with oil.
  • idiom hand Informal To bribe: an attorney who tried to oil the judge's hand to obtain a favorable verdict.
  • idiom hand Informal To give a tip to: oiled the porter's palm.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Liquid fat.
  • n. Petroleum-based liquid used as fuel or lubricant.
  • n. An oil painting.
  • v. To lubricate with oil.
  • v. To grease with oil for cooking/

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Any one of a great variety of unctuous combustible substances, more viscous than and not miscible with water; They are of animal, vegetable, or mineral origin and of varied composition, and they are variously used for food, for solvents, for anointing, lubrication, illumination, etc. By extension, any substance of an oily consistency.
  • transitive v. To smear or rub over with oil; to lubricate with oil; to anoint with oil.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To smear or rub over with oil; prepare for use by the application of oil: as, to oil a rag; oiled paper or silk.
  • To anoint with oil.
  • To render smooth by the application of oil; lubricate: as, to oil machinery; hence, figuratively, to render oily and bland; make smooth and pleasing.
  • to make it water-proof, as in China, Japan, etc., where oiled paper is extensively used for umbrellas, water-pails, lanterns, rain-clothes, etc.
  • In chem., a termination denoting an ether derived from a phenol: as, anisoïl (formerly called anisol).
  • n. The general name for a class of bodies which have all or most of the following properties in common: they are neutral bodies having a more or less unctuous feel and viscous consistence, are liquid at ordinary temperatures, are lighter than water, and are insoluble in it, but dissolve in alcohol and more readily in ether, and take fire when heated in air, burning with a luminous smoky flame.
  • n. Specifically Oil as used for burning in a lamp, to afford light: as, to burn the midnight oil (alluding to nocturnal study).
  • n. An oil of indifferent scent from the Lebanon cedar.
  • n. Oil of chrism, oil mixed with balsam, or with wine and aromatics, used at baptism, confirmation, coronation of sovereigns, etc.: also called chrism.
  • n. Oil of the sick, oil used at the unction of the sick. See euchelaion and unction.
  • n. Especially, in the Greek Church, oil which has been in contact with a relic or other sacred object, or has been taken from a church lamp.
  • n. Oil of myrcia.
  • n. Punishment with a birchen switch; a beating.
  • n. Indian geranium or palmarosa oil (formerly called Turkish geranium-oil), a fragrant essential oil distilled from the leaves of Andropogon Schœnanthus, used in perfumery. It comes from the Bombay Presidency in India.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. oil paint containing pigment that is used by an artist
  • v. cover with oil, as if by rubbing
  • n. a slippery or viscous liquid or liquefiable substance not miscible with water
  • v. administer an oil or ointment to ; often in a religious ceremony of blessing
  • n. any of a group of liquid edible fats that are obtained from plants
  • n. a dark oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English, from Old French oile, from Latin oleum, olive oil, from Greek *elaiwon, elaion, from *elaiwā, elaiā, olive.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English oile ("olive oil"), from Anglo-Norman olie, from Latin oleum ("oil, olive oil"), from Ancient Greek ἔλαιον (elaion, "olive oil"), from ἐλαία (elaía, "olive"). More at olive. Supplanted Old English æle, also from Latin.



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  • Citation (as oil painting) on discomfited.

    June 30, 2008

  • Captured at Yorktown, "3 jars oil, 90 gallons."

    Those are some big damn jars!

    October 29, 2007

  • Ha! I hear that a lot where I live now. Where I grew up, we used to jokingly pronounce it "erl." Wait... we still do.

    October 29, 2007

  • Where I grew up, the words "oil" and "all" were homophones--as in "my motor is low on all."

    October 10, 2007