Petroleum definition

pə-trōlē-əm
An oily, flammable, liquid solution of hydrocarbons, yellowish-green to black in color, occurring naturally in the rock strata of certain geological formations: when fractionally distilled, it yields paraffin, fuel oil, kerosene, gasoline, etc.
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Petroleum is an oily mixture of hydrocarbons that can be extracted from layers of rock and used to produce fuel.

The hydrocarbons in rock strata that are used to produce the gas in your car are an example of petroleum.

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A flammable liquid ranging in color from clear to very dark brown and black, consisting mainly of hydrocarbons, occurring naturally in deposits under the Earth's surface.
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A thick, flammable, yellow-to-black mixture of gaseous, liquid, and solid hydrocarbons that occurs naturally beneath the Earth's surface. It can be separated into fractions including natural gas, gasoline, naphtha, kerosene, paraffin wax, asphalt, and fuel and lubricating oils, and is used as raw material for a wide variety of derivative products. It is believed to originate from the accumulated remains of fossil plants and animals, especially in shallow marine environments.
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A thick, flammable, yellow-to-black mixture of gaseous, liquid, and solid hydrocarbons that occurs naturally beneath the earth's surface, can be separated into fractions including natural gas, gasoline, naphtha, kerosene, fuel and lubricating oils, paraffin wax, and asphalt and is used as raw material for a wide variety of derivative products.
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Other Word Forms

Noun

Singular:
petroleum
Plural:
petroleums

Origin of petroleum

  • Middle English from Medieval Latin petrōleum Latin petra rock petrous Latin ōleum oil oil

    From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition

  • From Medieval Latin petroleum, from petra (“rock") + oleum (“oil").

    From Wiktionary