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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English oylei, equivalent to oil +‎ -y. Compare German ölig (oily), Swedish oljig (oily).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɔɪli/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɔɪli


oily (comparative oilier, superlative oiliest)

  1. Relating to or resembling oil.
  2. Covered with or containing oil.
    • 1853, Herman Melville, Bartleby, the Scrivener[1]:
      His clothes were apt to look oily and smell of eating-houses.
    • 1917, Robert Hichens, Wilderness[2], Chapter:
      [] overdressed young men of enigmatic appearance, with oily thick hair, shifty eyes, and hands covered with cheap rings, swaggered about smoking cigarettes and talking in loud, ostentatious voices.
  3. (figurative) Excessively friendly or polite but insincere.

Derived terms[edit]



oily (plural oilies)

  1. A marble with an oily lustre.
    • 1998, Joanna Cole, Stephanie Calmenson, Michael Street, Marbles: 101 ways to play:
      Lustered (also called lusters, rainbows, oilies, and pearls).
    • 2001, Paul Webley, The economic psychology of everyday life, page 39:
      But marbles are not only used to play games: they are also traded. In this market, the value of the different kinds of marbles (oilies, emperors, etc.) is determined by local supply and demand and not by the price of the marbles []
  2. (in the plural, informal) Oilskins. (waterproof garment)