[n. grees; v. grees, greez]
the melted or rendered fat of animals, especially when in a soft state.
fatty or oily matter in general; lubricant.
Also called grease wool. wool, as shorn, before being cleansed of the oily matter.
Also called grease-heel [grees-heel] . Veterinary Pathology. inflammation of a horse's skin in the fetlock region, attended with an oily secretion.
Informal. a bribe.
verb (used with object), greased, greasing.
to put grease on; lubricate: to grease the axle of a car.
to smear or cover with grease.
to cause to occur easily; smooth the way; facilitate.
Informal. to bribe.
grease someone's palm. palm1 ( def 19 ).

1250–1300; Middle English grese, grece, greice < Anglo-French grece, gresse, Old French craisse (French graisse) < Vulgar Latin *crassia, equivalent to Latin crass(us) fat, thick + -ia noun suffix

greaseless, adjective
greaselessness, noun
greaseproof, adjective
regrease, verb (used with object), regreased, regreasing.
ungreased, adjective
well-greased, adjective

grease, Greece. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
1.  animal fat in a soft or melted condition
2.  any thick fatty oil, esp one used as a lubricant for machinery, etc
3.  Also called: grease wool shorn fleece before it has been cleaned
4.  vet science Also called: seborrhoea inflammation of the skin of horses around the fetlocks, usually covered with an oily secretion
5.  to soil, coat, or lubricate with grease
6.  to ease the course of: his education greased his path to success
7.  slang grease the palm of, grease the hand of to bribe; influence by giving money to
[C13: from Old French craisse, from Latin crassus thick]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

late 13c., from Anglo-Fr. grece, from O.Fr. graisse, from V.L. *crassia "(melted) animal fat, grease," from L. crassus "thick, solid, fat." Verb sense of "ply with bribe or protection money" is 1520s, from notion of grease the wheels "make things run smoothly" (mid-15c.). To grease (someone's) palm is
from 1580s. Greasy spoon "small cheap restaurant" is from 1925. Greaser, derogatory Amer.Eng. slang for "native Mexican or Latin American," first attested 1849.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with grease, also see elbow grease; like greased lightning; squeaky wheel gets the grease.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Encyclopedia Britannica


thick, oily lubricant consisting of inedible lard, the rendered fat of waste animal parts, or a petroleum-derived or synthetic oil containing a thickening agent

Learn more about grease with a free trial on

Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
Lumps may need a lot of elbow grease and a good whisk, but they can be banished.
Clean the trim around your window with a solution of mild dish detergent and
  water to remove dirt and grease.
The letter had apparently been kept in the tramp's pockets for a while and
  become stained with grease and tobacco crumbs.
The grease paint withstands hot sun and water, but it is messy.
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