1. combustible matter used to maintain fire, as coal, wood, oil, or gas, in order to create heat or power.
  2. something that gives nourishment; food.
  3. an energy source for engines, power plants, or reactors: Kerosene is used as jet engine fuel.
  4. something that sustains or encourages; stimulant: Our discussion provided him with fuel for debate.

verb (used with object), fu·eled, fu·el·ing or (especially British) fu·elled, fu·el·ling.

  1. to supply with fuel.

verb (used without object), fu·eled, fu·el·ing or (especially British) fu·elled, fu·el·ling.

  1. to obtain or replenish fuel.


  1. any substance burned as a source of heat or power, such as coal or petrol
    1. the material, containing a fissile substance, such as uranium-235, that produces energy in a nuclear reactor
    2. a substance that releases energy in a fusion reactor
  2. something that nourishes or builds up emotion, action, etc

verb fuels, fuelling or fuelled or US fuels, fueling or fueled

  1. to supply with or receive fuel

early 14c., from Old French foaile “bundle of firewood,” from Vulgar Latin legal term *focalia “right to demand material for making fire,” neuter plural of Latin focalis “pertaining to a hearth,” from focus “hearth” (see focus). Figurative use from 1570s.


1590s, from fuel (n.). Related: Fueled; fueling.

  1. A substance that produces useful energy when it undergoes a chemical or nuclear reaction. Fuel such as coal, wood, oil, or gas provides energy when burned. Compounds in the body such as glucose are broken down into simpler compounds to provide energy for metabolic processes. Some radioactive substances, such as plutonium and tritium, provide energy by undergoing nuclear fission or fusion.

see add fuel to the fire.

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