One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Oil obtained from the blubber of a whale (and formerly of other sea creatures), especially the right whale.
- ‘The price of train oil rose from 35 cents per gallon in 1825 to 95 cents in 1855.’
- ‘I shudder when I think of the portions we received: seven or eight enormous black steaks, swimming in fried train oil, and garnished with bits of blubber.’
- ‘However, at this time there were already many established firms that produced train oil and thus held a certain monopoly.’
- ‘That's difficult for me to understand, however enlightened I may be with sun, moon, stearine, train oil, and tallow.’
- ‘The train oil factory was situated at Josefsvej, beside the then residence of the trading post manager (today's doctor's residence).’
Mid 16th century: from obsolete train ‘train oil’, from Middle Low German trän, Middle Dutch traen, literally ‘tear’ (because it was extracted in droplets).
train oil/ˈtrān ˌoil/
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