I could not find the word "oilscape" in OneLook.

It appears to be like "landscape": Land + scape (and now "oil + scape). In this light, oilscape seems to mean the landscape of oil. I am not sure.

Surreal Californian oilscape wins climate change photography award This unreal landscape captures the environmental price of intensive oil exploitation paid by a desert in Kern County, California. The image was taken by David Gardner and won a prize at the 2020 BarTur Photo Award

Source: New Scientist

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    It's probably a nonce word: a word coined for one occasion. Yes, the writer means a picture of the oil-affected land. He/she was probably referring to oil paintings, which may or may not be landscapes. The word "seascapes" exists, so maybe you can attach scapes to anything you like. – Old Brixtonian Nov 27 '20 at 19:49

It's not a standard word. They are just being creative with the description. It is indeed an "oil landscape." Which is to say, the landscape has a lot of oil wells, so the main things you see in that landscape are all related to oil drilling. The roads are there to get to the oil wells. The vehicles are there to get to the oil wells. The structures are for people who work the oil wells, etc.

It would look completely different if it was just a natural landscape, so creatively calling it an "oilscape" emphasizes that you can't see what the land originally looked like any more.

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    To make the point; I followed the link expecting to see an oil pool or oil spill, not a lot of oil well derricks. – Joshua Nov 28 '20 at 18:32

A portmanteau word ... is a blend of words in which parts of multiple words are combined into a new word, as in smog, coined by blending smoke and fog, or motel, from motor and hotel.


Oilscape (like seascape and mindscape) is formed by joining a descriptive noun to the ending "scape" by analogy with landscape. Originally "scape" didn't have any connection with paintings. It acquired the meaning from being part of landscape.

This phenomenon happens sometimes in English. A notable example is the suffix "-gate". Originally it was part of the name "Watergate", however journalists later took and used the "gate" part of the name to indicate any kind of scandal. There is no semantic justification for this other than by association. Before Watergate, no-one would have associated the word gate with scandal.

The suffix -gate is a word ending that has its roots in an American scandal that occurred in the 1970s

English-speaking journalists love brevity, especially in headlines and squashing words together in this way is one of the tools of their trade.

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    Of course, if -gate is a suffix, then the scandal involving the Watergate Hotel should be called Watergategate – gidds Nov 28 '20 at 12:16
  • Great example there @chasly – Fattie Nov 28 '20 at 19:48

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