SKIP TO CONTENT

oil

Oil is a liquid fat or fuel. You might dress your salad with olive oil and use motor oil in your car's engine; just don't confuse the two!

There's the oil you put in your car or use to oil a rusty lock — then there's the oil you heat to stir fry vegetables or whisk with vinegar to make salad dressing. Chemically, these oils have a lot in common, from their tendency to avoid water to their slipperiness to the ease with which they catch on fire. Still, you'd never want to toss a bowl of spaghetti with motor oil — stick to olive oil instead.

Definitions of oil
  1. noun
    a slippery or viscous liquid or liquefiable substance not miscible with water
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 69 types...
    hide 69 types...
    sassafras oil
    oil from root bark of sassafras trees; used in perfumery and as a disinfectant
    calamus oil
    carcinogenic oil from calamus root used as a perfume
    mustard oil
    oil obtained from mustard seeds and used in making soap
    colza oil, rape oil, rapeseed oil
    edible light yellow to brown oil from rapeseed used also as a lubricant or illuminant
    safflower oil
    oil from safflower seeds used as food as well as in medicines and paints
    hydnocarpus oil
    oil from seeds of trees of the genus Hydnocarpus especially Hydnocarpus wightiana (Hydnocarpus laurifolia)
    babacu oil, babassu oil
    fatty oil from kernels of babassu nuts similar to coconut oil
    cohune fat, cohune oil, cohune-nut oil
    semisolid fat from nuts of the cohune palm; used in cooking and soap making
    almond oil, expressed almond oil, sweet almond oil
    pale yellow fatty oil expressed from sweet or bitter almonds
    hedeoma oil, pennyroyal oil
    aromatic oil from American pennyroyal
    hyssop oil
    used chiefly in liqueurs
    spike lavender oil, spike oil
    pale yellow essential oil obtained from spike lavender used in scenting soaps and cosmetics
    pennyroyal oil
    oil from European pennyroyal having an odor like mint; used chiefly in soaps
    croton oil
    viscid acrid brownish-yellow oil from the seeds of Croton tiglium having a violent cathartic action
    fuel oil, heating oil
    a petroleum product used for fuel
    animal oil
    any oil obtained from animal substances
    camphor oil
    oil distilled from camphor resin
    grease, lubricating oil
    a thick fatty oil (especially one used to lubricate machinery)
    essential oil, volatile oil
    an oil having the odor or flavor of the plant from which it comes; used in perfume and flavorings
    mineral oil
    a distillate of petroleum (especially one used medicinally as a laxative or stool softener)
    motor oil
    oil used to lubricate the moving parts of a motor
    fatty oil, fixed oil
    nonvolatile animal or plant oil
    fusel oil
    a mixture of amyl alcohols and propanol and butanol formed from distillation of fermented liquors
    stand oil
    a thick oil comprised of linseed, tung, or soya oils which have been heated to over 300 C
    neroli oil
    an odoriferous yellow oil found in orange flowers and used in perfumery and as a flavoring
    tall oil
    an oil derived from wood pulp and used in making soaps or lubricants
    crude, crude oil, fossil oil, petroleum, rock oil
    a dark oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons
    shale oil
    oil extracted from oil shale by heating
    flaxseed oil, linseed oil
    a drying oil extracted from flax seed and used in making such things as oil paints
    Chinese wood oil, tung oil
    a yellow oil obtained from the seeds of the tung tree
    chaulmoogra oil
    an oil from chaulmoogra trees; used in treatment of skin diseases and leprosy
    lemon grass, lemongrass, lemongrass oil
    an aromatic oil that smells like lemon and is widely used in Asian cooking and in perfumes and medicines
    ilang-ilang
    oil distilled from flowers of the ilang-ilang tree; used in perfumery
    bitter almond oil
    pale yellow essential oil obtained from bitter almonds by distillation from almond cake or meal
    drying oil
    an oil that hardens in air due to oxidation and is often used as a paint or varnish base
    axle grease
    a thick heavy grease used to lubricate axles
    blubber
    an insulating layer of fat under the skin of whales and other large marine mammals; used as a source of oil
    Dippel's oil, bone oil
    dark-colored ill-smelling oil obtained by carbonizing bone; used especially in sheep dips and in denaturing alcohol
    bone oil
    the liquid portion of bone fat; used as a lubricant and in leather manufacture
    cod liver oil, cod-liver oil
    an oil obtained from the livers of cod and similar fishes; taken orally as a source of vitamins A and D
    lanolin, wool fat, wool grease
    a yellow viscous animal oil extracted from wool; a mixture of fatty acids and esters; used in some ointments and cosmetics
    fish oil, fish-liver oil
    a fatty oil obtained from the livers of various fish
    acylglycerol, glyceride
    an ester of glycerol and fatty acids that occurs naturally as fats and fatty oils
    goose grease
    grease derived from geese
    atar, athar, attar, ottar
    essential oil or perfume obtained from flowers
    clove oil, oil of cloves
    essential oil obtained from cloves and used to flavor medicines
    costus oil
    a yellow volatile essential oil obtained from costusroot; used in perfumes
    eucalyptus oil
    an essential oil obtained from the leaves of eucalypts
    oil of turpentine, spirit of turpentine, turpentine, turps
    volatile liquid distilled from turpentine oleoresin; used as paint thinner and solvent and medicinally
    absinthe oil, wormwood oil
    a dark bitter oil obtained from wormwood leaves; flavors absinthe liqueurs
    linalool
    a colorless fragrant liquid found in many essential oils
    halibut-liver oil
    a fatty oil from halibut livers that is used as a source of vitamin A
    lard oil
    oil consisting chiefly of olein that is expressed from lard and used especially as a lubricant, cutting oil or illuminant
    menhaden oil
    a fatty oil obtained from the menhaden fish and used in paint and ink and in treating leather
    neat's-foot oil
    a pale yellow oil made from the feet and legs of cattle; used as a dressing for leather
    gas oil
    an oil formed through distillation of petroleum of intermediate boiling range and viscosity
    oleo oil
    obtained from beef fat; used in making margarine and soap and in lubrication
    resid, residual oil
    oil products that remain after petroleum has been distilled
    porpoise oil
    a yellow fatty oil obtained from porpoises and used as a fine lubricant
    dolphin oil
    an unsaturated fatty oil obtained from dolphins and used as a fine lubricant
    salmon oil
    a fatty oil obtained from the wastes in canning salmon; used in making soap and dressing leather
    sardine oil
    oil obtained from sardines and used chiefly as a lubricant and in soap
    seal oil
    a pale yellow to red-brown fatty oil obtained from seal blubber; used in making soap and dressing leather and as a lubricant
    shark oil, shark-liver oil
    a fatty yellow to brown oil obtained from the livers of sharks; used for dressing leather and as a source of vitamin A
    sperm oil
    an animal oil found in the blubber of the sperm whale
    tallow
    obtained from suet and used in making soap, candles and lubricants
    tallow oil
    an animal oil obtained by pressing tallow; used as a lubricant
    train oil, whale oil
    a white to brown oil obtained from whale blubber; formerly used as an illuminant
    wool oil
    any oil used to oil wool before spinning
    type of:
    lipid, lipide, lipoid
    an oily organic compound insoluble in water but soluble in organic solvents; essential structural component of living cells (along with proteins and carbohydrates)
  2. noun
    any of a group of liquid edible fats that are obtained from plants
    synonyms: vegetable oil
    see moresee less
    types:
    show 17 types...
    hide 17 types...
    cooking oil
    any of numerous vegetable oils used in cooking
    sweet oil
    mild vegetable oil when used as food; especially olive or edible rape oil
    canola, canola oil
    vegetable oil made from rapeseed; it is high in monounsaturated fatty acids
    coconut oil, copra oil
    oil from coconuts
    corn oil
    oil from the germs of corn grains
    cottonseed oil
    edible oil pressed from cottonseeds
    olive oil
    oil from olives
    palm oil
    oil from nuts of oil palms especially the African oil palm
    groundnut oil, peanut oil
    an oil from peanuts; used in cooking and making soap
    salad oil
    any of several edible vegetable oils that can be used in salad dressings
    safflower oil
    oil from seeds of the safflower plant
    sesame oil
    oil obtained from sesame seeds
    soyabean oil, soybean oil
    oil from soya beans
    sunflower oil, sunflower-seed oil
    oil from sunflower seeds
    walnut oil
    oil from walnuts
    madia oil
    used as a substitute for olive oil
    drying oil
    an oil that hardens in air due to oxidation and is often used as a paint or varnish base
    type of:
    edible fat
    oily or greasy matter making up the bulk of fatty tissue in animals and in seeds and other plant tissue
  3. noun
    a dark oil consisting mainly of hydrocarbons
    synonyms: crude, crude oil, fossil oil, petroleum, rock oil
    see moresee less
    types:
    resid, residual oil
    oil products that remain after petroleum has been distilled
    type of:
    fossil fuel
    fuel consisting of the remains of organisms preserved in rocks in the earth's crust with high carbon and hydrogen content
  4. noun
    oil paint containing pigment that is used by an artist
    synonyms: oil color, oil colour
    see moresee less
    type of:
    oil paint
    paint in which a drying oil is the vehicle
  5. verb
    cover with oil, as if by rubbing
    oil the wooden surface”
    see moresee less
    type of:
    cover
    provide with a covering or cause to be covered
  6. verb
    administer an oil or ointment to ; often in a religious ceremony of blessing
    synonyms: anele, anoint, embrocate, inunct
    see moresee less
    type of:
    bless
    give a benediction to
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week