Definition of Sterno in English:



  • [mass noun] Flammable hydrocarbon jelly supplied in cans for use as fuel for cooking stoves.

    • ‘Fondue pots are made to sit over a little can of fuel called Sterno.’
    • ‘When I was in the Cavalry I always stashed a little Sterno in the troop carrier, but I forgot it this time.’
    • ‘He plunked me down in a blind on an icy winter day with a lit can of Sterno.’
    • ‘Of course my hopes that this was the end to the whole business were dashed when E. stashed me in a plywood hunting blind with a can of Sterno and some matches and said he'd be back when he heard me shoot.’
    • ‘I bought some Sterno and some canned dog food, matches, instant coffee… where are we going with this?’


Early 20th century: from the name of Sternau and Co., New York, + -o.