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Borrowed from French oléagineux, borrowed from Medieval Latin oleāginōsus (oily), from olea (the olive tree or its fruit).


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌəʊ.lɪˈæd͡ʒ.ɪ.nəs/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌoʊ.liˈæd͡ʒ.ɪ.nəs/
  • Audio (US):(file)



oleaginous (comparative more oleaginous, superlative most oleaginous)

  1. Oily, greasy.
    Synonyms: oily, sebaceous, unctuous
    • 1707, J[ohn] Mortimer, The Whole Art of Husbandry; or, The Way of Managing and Improving of Land. [], 2nd edition, London: [] J[ohn] H[umphreys] for H[enry] Mortlock [], and J[onathan] Robinson [], published 1708, →OCLC:
      [] the use of Linseed-oyl, Tar, or such oleaginous Matter, tends much to their Preservation and Duration.
    • 1929, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Disintegration Machine[1]:
      Looking back, it seemed to me that a slight oleaginous mist was still hovering round the chair.
    • 2000, Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde, page 677:
      His once-black hair had faded to the color of used steel wool and now covered his bony skull in a peculiar oleaginous fuzz.
  2. (of manner or speech) Falsely or affectedly earnest; persuasively suave.
    Synonyms: fulsome, smarmy, unctuous
    The oleaginous salesman convinced me to buy a more expensive car.
    • 2015 November 1, Hendrik Hertzberg, “That G.O.P. Debate: Two Footnotes”, in The New Yorker[2]:
      Cruz was obviously analogizing Bernie Sanders to the Bolsheviks and Hillary Clinton to the Mensheviks. The oleaginous Texan is an erudite slyboots, but his history is off-kilter.
    • 2018 May 9, George F. Will, “Trump is no longer the worst person in government”, in The Washington Post:
      The oleaginous Mike Pence, with his talent for toadyism and appetite for obsequiousness, could, Trump knew, become America’s most repulsive public figure.
    • 2023 January 11, Peter Bradshaw, “Tár review – Cate Blanchett is perfect lead in delirious, sensual drama”, in The Guardian[3], →ISSN:
      She runs a mentoring scholarship programme for women, administered by a tiresome, oleaginous would-be conductor, played by Mark Strong, and there are rumours that this is a source of young women with whom Tár has affairs.