Definition of lubricate in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Apply a substance such as oil or grease to (an engine or component) to minimize friction and allow smooth movement.

    ‘remove the nut and lubricate the thread’
    ‘lubricating oils’
    • ‘Enough oil should seep through to lubricate your bearings.’
    • ‘The pursuer was attempting to unscrew a bolt which had not been lubricated for a year.’
    • ‘The Defenders will also be running on a mix of more combustible aviation fuel and oil to help lubricate the engine.’
    • ‘Therefore, bearings are lubricated with some type of oil or grease.’
    • ‘It is crucial that your oil be warm and fluid to properly lubricate the engine, even in winter.’
    • ‘If you want to lubricate the freewheel mechanism, access to it can be gained by pulling off the left side axle end cap by clamping this end cap in an axle vice and pulling the hub in line with the axle.’
    • ‘Oil is not mixed with the gasoline but remains completely separate in the crankcase, where it lubricates the crankshaft, connecting rods and cylinder walls.’
    • ‘There are many parts that have to be lubricated every single day, or the machine will break down.’
    • ‘The engine is designed to lubricate itself perfectly well at idle speed.’
    • ‘Oil powers their machinery and lubricates their engines.’
    • ‘Most threads should be lubricated on assembly.’
    • ‘The bearing swivel system is an industry first and unlike all other leash swivels actually lubricates itself as it spins.’
    • ‘This has lubricated the engine, and we've got to keep going.’
    • ‘Check fluid levels, lubricate and grease wherever and whenever recommended by the manufacturer.’
    • ‘But to cut down harmful frictions, such moving parts must be lubricated.’
    • ‘This is particularly important at idle when there is no splash oiling from the connecting rods and crankshaft to lubricate the cam and lifter contact points.’
    • ‘The end result is that the engine oil pumps will continue to lubricate the engine, but the scavenge pumps will not be able to maintain a pressure head and oil will pool up inside the engine.’
    • ‘The unit uses soy-bean-based biodegradable oil and compressed air to lubricate metal components that are being machined or drilled.’
    • ‘If the bar, chain and nose sprocket are not properly lubricated, these components will surely fail prematurely.’
    • ‘Since the bearings and piston rings are lubricated predominantly in the hydrodynamic regime, a lubricant with a lower viscosity should lead to a thinner oil film and thus lower friction.’
    oil, grease, make slippery, make smooth, smear with oil, cover with oil, rub with oil, moisturize, wax, polish
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    1. 1.1 Make (a process) run smoothly.
      ‘the availability of credit lubricated the channels of trade’
      • ‘And they need the free flow of information that lubricates a modern market economy.’
      • ‘So I think there is a lot of Saudi money that has lubricated the system hoping to insulate Saudi Arabia from these kinds of attacks.’
      • ‘That accounting has the honor of serving as a major provider of information, and information lubricates markets.’
      • ‘They also tend to concentrate power in the hands of powerful clan-based political chiefs, since only they have the authority and prestige to broker the backroom deals needed to lubricate the system.’
      • ‘The information is what lubricates the system.’
      • ‘At first glance it would appear that the dishonesty which lubricated the peace process has now clogged it up.’
      • ‘They're not the real story or the heart of the money lubricating the cogs of this machine.’
      • ‘Indeed, since bribery is considered essential for lubricating a deal, corruption-busting magistrates can find themselves accused of harming French business interests.’
      • ‘And for the first time Middle Eastern oil was now lubricating the wheels of international diplomacy.’
      • ‘Their terrorist activities are lubricated by an intricate financial system.’
      • ‘Filmed decommissioning only makes sense from the dispassionate perspective of cold logic - lubricating the stalled negotiations so that a power-sharing executive and all-Ireland bodies can be restored.’
      • ‘The therapeutic alliance of the integrated model facilitates and lubricates these crucial processes.’
      • ‘When a country - particularly ‘a democracy’ - goes to war, the passive consent of the governed lubricates the machinery of slaughter.’
      facilitate, ease, ready, make smooth, smooth the way for, oil the wheels for, pave the way for
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    2. 1.2informal Make (someone) convivial with alcohol.
      ‘men lubricated with alcohol speak their true feelings’
      • ‘I was merely lubricated and relaxed, not drunk by any means.’
      • ‘He is taken to a magnificent banquet, lubricated by the choicest alcohol, three glasses at a time.’
      • ‘Painfully shy (unless lubricated with alcohol), agoraphobic and intensely private, the outline of his life is, for the most part, a list of publications.’
      • ‘Bands of roving youths, lubricated by alcohol, went about town making merry, making noise, and sometimes making trouble.’
      • ‘The brokers, lubricated by champagne, chuckle.’
      • ‘Despite being lubricated with free alcohol following the setpiece, staff left the Q & A less informed than when they began.’
      • ‘Moved by the ceremony and lubricated by Chardonnay, the women are in a vulnerable state.’
      • ‘Everyone, except me, was lubricated with alcohol - so they were slightly distorted.’
      • ‘The night continues, lubricated by alcohol, until it starts getting late and people start to leave.’


Early 17th century: from Latin lubricat- ‘made slippery’, from the verb lubricare, from lubricus ‘slippery’.