n. & v.
n. 1 a a hard black or blackish rock, mainly carbonized plant matter, found in underground seams and used as a fuel and in the manufacture of gas, tar, etc. b Brit. a piece of this for burning. 2 a red-hot piece of coal, wood, etc. in a fire.
v. 1 intr. take in a supply of coal. 2 tr. put coal into (an engine, fire, etc.). coal-bed a stratum of coal. coal-black completely black. coal-fired heated or driven by coal. coal gas mixed gases extracted from coal and used for lighting and heating. coal-hole Brit. a compartment or small cellar for storing coal. coal measures a series of rocks formed by seams of coal with intervening strata. coal oil US petroleum or paraffin. coal-sack 1 a sack for carrying coal. 2 a black patch in the Milky Way, esp. the one near the Southern Cross. coal-scuttle a container for coal to supply a domestic fire. coal-seam a stratum of coal suitable for mining. coals to Newcastle something brought or sent to a place where it is already plentiful. coal tar a thick black oily liquid distilled from coal and used as a source of benzene. coal-tit (or cole-tit) a small greyish bird, Parus ater, with a black head: also called COALMOUSE. haul (or call) over the coals reprimand. coaly adj.
[ OE col f. Gmc ]