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A nugget of anthracite coal.


From Middle English cole, from Old English col, from Proto-Germanic *kulą (compare West Frisian koal, Dutch kool, German Kohle, Danish kul), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷol- (compare Old Irish gúal ‎(coal), Tocharian B śoliye ‎(hearth), Persian زغال ‎(zuγāl, live coal)), from *ǵwelH- ‎(to glow, burn) (compare Lithuanian žvìlti ‎(to twinkle, glow), Sanskrit ज्वलति ‎(jvalati, to burn, glow)).



coal ‎(countable and uncountable, plural coals)

  1. (uncountable) A black rock formed from prehistoric plant remains, composed largely of carbon and burned as a fuel.
  2. (countable) A piece of coal used for burning. Note that in British English either of the following examples could be used, whereas the latter would be more common in American English.
    Put some coals on the fire.
    Put some coal on the fire.
  3. (countable) A type of coal, such as bituminous, anthracite, or lignite, and grades and varieties thereof.
  4. (countable) A glowing or charred piece of coal, wood, or other solid fuel.
    Just as the camp-fire died down to just coals, with no flames to burn the marshmallows, someone dumped a whole load of wood on, so I gave up and went to bed.
  5. Charcoal.


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coal ‎(third-person singular simple present coals, present participle coaling, simple past and past participle coaled)

  1. (intransitive) To take on a supply of coal (usually of steam ships).
    • 1890, Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray, ch. XVI:
      The light shook and splintered in the puddles. A red glare came from an outward-bound steamer that was coaling.
  2. (intransitive) To be converted to charcoal.
    • 1957, H.R. Schubert, History of the British Iron and Steel Industry, page 18:
      As a result, particles of wood and twigs insufficiently coaled are frequently found at the bottom of such pits.
  3. (transitive) To burn to charcoal; to char.
    • Francis Bacon
      Charcoal of roots, coaled into great pieces.
  4. (transitive) To mark or delineate with charcoal.
    • Camden
      Marvailing, he coaled out rhimes upon the wall, near to the picture.
  5. (transitive) To supply with coal.
    to coal a steamer