Definition of fuel in English:

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Pronunciation: /fjuː(ə)l/


[mass noun]
1Material such as coal, gas, or oil that is burned to produce heat or power: one aircraft ran out of fuel and had to ditch [count noun]: buses powered by alternative fuels [as modifier]: an engine with high fuel consumption
More 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.
power source, combustible, propellant;
petrol, diesel oil;
North American  gasoline, gas
firewood, wood, kindling, logs;
coal, coke, anthracite;
oil, paraffin, kerosene;
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, sustenance, nutriment, nutrition, food, fodder
1.3A thing that sustains or inflames passion, argument, or other intense emotion: 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, incentive, ammunition, incitement, stimulus;
provocation, goading

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

[with object]
1Supply or power (an industrial plant, vehicle, or machine) with fuel: power stations fuelled by low-grade coal
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, charge, fire, stoke up, supply with fuel
2Cause (a fire) to burn more intensely: petrol may have been used to fuel the fire don’t open a door or you could fuel the flames
More 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 (an intense feeling): his resignation fuelled speculation of an imminent cabinet reshuffle
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.
stimulate, boost, encourage, intensify, fortify, support, nurture;
incite, inflame, exacerbate, animate, vitalize, fan, feed, whip up;
provoke, goad


add fuel to the fire (or flames)

Cause a situation or conflict to become more intense.
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

Line breaks: fuel

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