General English

General Science

  • noun mineral oil extracted from underground deposits, used to make petrol and other petroleum products


  • noun a liquid compound which does not mix with water, occurring as vegetable or animal oils, essential volatile oils and mineral oils


  • noun a thick mineral liquid used as a fuel or to make mechanical parts move smoothly

Cars & Driving

  • noun the oil used to lubricate an engine (engine oil) is refined from crude oil and apart from reducing friction and wear, cools high-temperature parts like bearings and piston rings (as well as sealing the latter against blow-by) and helps to keep engines clean and free from corrosion caused by combustion gases.


  • noun a natural liquid found in the ground, used to burn to give power


  • Fat, which is liquid at ambient temperatures, comprising glycerol esters of a variety of mainly unsaturated, fatty acids. They are extracted from seeds, nuts, fruit, fish and other cold blooded animals. Most natural oils contain complex flavouring compounds some of which are essential oils. The common seed, nut and fruit oils are almond, coconut, corn, cottonseed, grapeseed, hazelnut, mustard, olive, palm, peanut, poppy seed, rape seed, safflower, sesame, soya, sunflower and walnut. The animal oils are cod liver, halibut liver, whale and snake.


  • noun a thick liquid refined from petroleum, which is used to lubricate machinery and protect metal from rust and corrosion
  • noun petroleum, a liquid mineral substance which is extracted from the ground and then refined to produce petrol, diesel, kerosene and lubricating oil
  • verb to apply oil to an object


  • noun a thick smooth-running liquid of various kinds used in cooking
  • verb to put oil on

Origin & History of “oil”

around the Mediterranean in ancient times the only sort of oil encountered was that produced by pressing olives, and so ‘oil’ was named after the olive. The Greek word for ‘olive’ was elaíā, and from it was derived elaíon ‘olive oil’. this passed into Latin as oleum, and reached English via Old French oile. By now it had begun to be applied to similar substances pressed from nuts, seeds, etc, but its specific modern use for the mineral oil ‘petroleum’ is a much more recent, essentially 19th-century development.