Definition of fuel in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈfyo͞o(ə)l/


1Material such as coal, gas, or oil that is burned to produce heat or power.
Example sentences
  • The main imports are raw materials, petroleum-based fuels, and consumer goods.
  • In 50 years' time there will be very little in the way of fuels to heat, cool, light and power the homes of a rising population, in Australia and worldwide.
  • Almost all of the fuels used for transportation and the majority of the fuels used for heat and electricity come from petroleum products.
gas, gasoline, diesel, petroleum, propane;
power source;
British  petrol
firewood, wood, kindling, logs;
coal, coke, anthracite;
oil, kerosene, propane, lighter fluid;
heat source
1.1 short for nuclear fuel.
Example sentences
  • Most fuel for nuclear reactors is made from enriched uranium oxide.
  • From spent fuel rods, new fuel is created using uranium more effectively and reducing atomic waste.
  • Then it backtracked on part of that deal, fueling American suspicions that it was not simply developing fuel for nuclear reactors.
1.2Food, drink, or drugs as a source of energy: any protein intake can also be used as fuel
More example sentences
  • The heart normally uses fatty acid as its primary fuel source for energy.
  • The latest science says the following six foods provide healthy fuel for burning fat and building muscle.
  • Eating more low-GI foods will not only give you a steady source of fuel throughout the day, it will also help you eat less - and that can make up for a missed workout.
nourishment, food, sustenance, nutriment, nutrition
1.3A thing that sustains or inflames passion, argument, or other emotion or activity: the remuneration packages will add fuel to the debate about top-level rewards
More example sentences
  • The latest record by the David Lowery-led Cracker adds fuel to the argument that Americans don't understand irony.
  • They are experienced enough to know how timing and careful selection of language can add fuel to inflamed prejudices.
  • Although neither my friends nor myself ever owned one, these toy robots were fuel for the imagination.
encouragement, ammunition, stimulus, incentive;
provocation, goading

verb (fuels, fueling, fueled ; British fuels, fuelling, fuelled)

[with object]
1Supply or power (an industrial plant, vehicle, or machine) with fuel: the plan includes a hydroelectric plant to fuel a paper factory figurative a big novel that is fueled by anger and revenge
More example sentences
  • The amount of electricity produced is much less than power plants fueled by coal or natural gas, but with very low operating costs, the solar project is expected quickly to turn a profit while emitting zero pollution.
  • When England was the center of the Industrial Revolution, coal fueled the steam engines.
  • Most US power plants are fueled by coal, fuel oil, and natural gas, the only fuels available in sufficient quantities to meet the demand.
power, fire, charge
1.1Fill up (a vehicle, aircraft, or ship) with oil or gasoline.
Example sentences
  • Outside, the weather had not really improved and after once again fueling the aircraft, the massive doors on the opposite side of the hangar were opened and the three fighters taxied out to start the next leg of the journey.
  • We had fueled the aircraft with 40 gallons of 100LL.
  • Following this, the aircraft was fueled to full tanks.
1.2 [no object] (fuel up) (Of a person) eat a meal: arrive straight from work and fuel up on the complimentary buffet
More example sentences
  • It may feel awkward or unnatural to miss a meal or not eat when everyone else does, but fueling up when your tank is already full only adds up to unwanted pounds.
  • While Jerry guzzled coffee and ordered all the greasy meat on the menu, Tom fueled up on carbs with multigrain cereal and toast, and protein from eggs and dairy to replenish his power.
  • They open for breakfast a half-hour before the store opens, so you can fuel up before embarking on your shopping trip.
2Cause (a fire) to burn more intensely.
Example sentences
  • The fabric and wood fueled the flames while fire units worked to extinguish the blaze.
  • Customers fueled the fire by trying to put out the flames with their drinks.
  • The fierce Santa Ana winds are fueling the flames, driving those fires about 60 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
2.1Sustain or inflame (a feeling or activity): his rascal heart and private pain fuel his passion as an actor
More example sentences
  • She kissed him with a passion fueled by her intense fear of being found out, and she felt him kissing her back.
  • Add to this a few allegations of cover-ups and fear mongering and an absolute media frenzy that further fuelled the feeling of terror throughout US and the world.
  • His words inflamed, and helped fuel the violent unrest of the days to come, an ugly venting of accumulated African rage.
fan, feed, stoke up, inflame, intensify, stimulate, encourage, provoke, incite, whip up;
sustain, keep alive


add fuel to the fire (or flames)

Cause a situation or conflict to become more intense, especially by provocative comments.
Example sentences
  • And yet some free traders have gotten on board with the desire to use protectionist means to boost prices and thereby add fuel to the fire of socialized medicine.
  • It adds fuel to the fire, and to the pain and hatred on the other side.
  • Regardless, the behavior of these security guards only adds fuel to the fire of the far left, in that the more things like this happen, the more they can cry about police state tactics.


Middle English: from Old French fouaille, based on Latin focus 'hearth' (in late Latin 'fire').

  • Fuel comes ultimately from Latin focus ‘hearth’ ( see focus), so there has been a shift in meaning from where the fire was laid to what was being burned. Fuel poverty has recently been prominent but is found from the 1970s for the inability to afford adequate domestic heating, lighting, and power. See also fossil

Words that rhyme with fuel

accrual, construal, crewel, cruel, dual, duel, gruel, jewel, newel, renewal, reviewal

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: fu·el

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