23

People say "to be low on fuel" to mean not having enough fuel.

Can I say "my car is high on fuel" as a counterpart of "my car is low on fuel"?

Some say the opposite of "my car is low on fuel" is "my car is full of fuel"

Say "low on fuel" means the tank still has some fuel, maybe 20%. So, it's opposite is that the car has a lot of fuel maybe up to 80% but not 100%.

But "my car is full of fuel" means the amount of fuel is 100%.

11
  • 24
    "be high on something" sounds like a drugs reference!
    – James K
    Commented Apr 9 at 5:56
  • 6
    If the tank contains a lot of fuel but is not full, you can say "My car has plenty of fuel". Commented Apr 9 at 9:42
  • 2
    "High" can be used as an opposite to "low" in such sentences, but with different phrasing: "My car's gas reserve is high" or "My car's gas level is high". Notice this phrasing also works with "low." Also consider: "I'm low on energy" but "My energy level is high", not "I'm high on energy."
    – user8356
    Commented Apr 9 at 13:16
  • 2
    I'm not sure there's any context in which "high on X" is an idiomatic choice for "has a lot of X." But there's a very similar usage that does work both ways. "These cookies are a bit light on the chocolate and a bit heavy on the walnuts." But there's an added connotation: not just little of and much of, but too little and too much. Commented Apr 9 at 15:37
  • 7
    @JackAidley you would if aren't being specific about the kind of fuel: "at the end of the week, my cars are often low on fuel" - the fuel could be petrol, diesel, LPG, ... and it could be different for each car Commented Apr 9 at 20:02

6 Answers 6

45

No, "high on fuel" is not an idiomatic opposite for "low on fuel". An idiomatic opposite would be, "my tank is nearly full."

While high can be the opposite of low, it's not always so. Both words have numerous meanings, and not every meaning of one of these words has a corresponding meaning in the other.

One use of low is to mean depleted, or close to empty. This use often seen in the phrase "low on."

Examples include:

  • the tank is low on gas
  • the account is low on funds
  • the expedition was low on supplies

But we do not use high to mean full, or nearly full.

None of these examples work:

  • the tank is high on gas
  • the account is high on funds
  • the expedition was high on supplies

And while there is an idiomatic phrase "high on", it has an altogether different meaning:

high on something

  1. excited or enthusiastic about something. Tom is really high on the idea of going to Yellowstone this summer. I'm not high on going, but I will.
  2. intoxicated. John is acting as if he is high on something. Has he been doing drugs again?

McGraw-Hill Dictionary

7
  • Perfectly correct answer. One thing that might be confusing is that people are using 'invented' words such as 'highkey' from 'lowkey'. I personally dislike that word in particular but I'm hearing an seeing it in text more and more.
    – JimmyJames
    Commented Apr 9 at 14:50
  • An account can be "long on funds." Commented Apr 9 at 15:42
  • 16
    +1 John could be high on gasoline fumes.
    – TimR
    Commented Apr 9 at 17:48
  • 5
    "the expedition was high on supplies" - well, it depends on what was really in those supplies :)
    – vsz
    Commented Apr 10 at 13:48
  • 9
    High is opposite of low, but "high on" isn't the opposite of "low on".
    – Nelson
    Commented Apr 11 at 5:48
11

As you know, the phrase "we're low on fuel" essentially means "the amount of fuel we have is less than we would like it to be" or "it would be better if we had more fuel."

To me, the phrase "we're high on fuel" means "the amount of fuel we have is more than we would like it to be" or "it would be better if we had less fuel." However, it's very rare that you would want your car to have less fuel in it, so this phrase rarely makes sense.

I can think of a scenario where a native speaker might use the phrase "high on fuel." Imagine that the pilots of an airplane need to make an unplanned landing, but the plane's fuel tanks are still mostly full, and so the weight of the plane is higher than its maximum recommended landing weight. Then one of the pilots might say something like, "We're still pretty high on fuel, so we don't want to land yet."

Despite the above, I definitely would not say something like "my apartment is high on trash" to mean "the amount of trash in my apartment is more than I would like it to be." I can't explain why not.

(As the other answers mention, "high on fuel" could also mean "intoxicated as a result of consuming fuel.")

2
  • The pilots would be more likely to declare that they were overweight.
    – Phil
    Commented Apr 11 at 20:16
  • If interested in the aviation aspect, one channel you can watch is VAS Aviation, which covers emergencies. My understanding is that the pilots will declare that they need to dump or burn fuel - in the latter case, they will ask air traffic control to vector them to a holding pattern. They can declare intent to land while overweight.
    – Weiwen Ng
    Commented Apr 11 at 21:40
7

If you want to use a similar phrasing, you could say you are "good on fuel"- this doesn't mean necessarily that you have a lot, but that you have enough.

Good - adjective

h (informal) : having everything desired or required : content and not wanting or needing to do anything further

Example usage in context:

And are we good on time? We got as much time as we need.

4
  • Usually you'd say "good for fuel" (although that's an American turn of phrase), more common would be "I've got / my car has plenty of fuel".
    – John U
    Commented Apr 10 at 15:08
  • 4
    I'll argue for "good on fuel" being perfectly natural in the USA.
    – Matthew
    Commented Apr 10 at 18:54
  • 2
    I'm a native speaker of English, and I watch movies and TV programs from a lot of different English-speaking countries. I've NEVER heard "good on fuel" used in this way. If somebody told me "my car is good on fuel", I would understand it to mean that the car has lower-than-average fuel consumption. Commented Apr 11 at 7:40
  • 1
    @DawoodibnKareem born and raised American here. I would absolutely use and interpret "good on fuel" to mean "don't need to fill up yet." Lower-than-average fuel consumption would be "good mileage."
    – Allison C
    Commented Apr 11 at 14:36
3

“Low on fuel” is a fixed expression that cannot be easily modified.

“I’m high on fuel” means I’m a drug addict who was been sniffing fuel to get high. Don’t do this.

“My car is full of fuel” means I’m transporting twenty cans of fuel, or someone emptied the contents of a fuel canister into my car.

“My tank is full” or “full with gas/petrol/diesel” is what you should use. You can also say “my tank is empty”, “low”, “almost empty”.

1
  • Simple is best. +1
    – Lambie
    Commented Apr 10 at 19:30
1

While this is only slightly different than one of the other answers, I think "I've got a full tank" is the most-used phrase, at least as far as I've heard. If you wanted to specifically state that it is not quite full, I'd say "My tank is almost full", which is even closer to the other answer, but it's good to hear even slightly different perspectives :) For some reason, I don't think I'd use the word "nearly" - not sure I could say why, but maybe it's a north/south thing (I'm from the south).

0
0

I'm actually going to argue that "my car is high on fuel" is a perfectly acceptable thing to say. It's unusual to be sure ("good on fuel" would likely be more typical) and, as others have noted, could indicate having more fuel than desired, but it's not so bizarre as to be likely misunderstood. ("Good for fuel" is also acceptable, but IMO "on" is fine and not unusual in this context, and is likely taken as short for "with respect to". Note that a car can be "good on" other things, e.g. maintenance, oil pressure, tire pressure, washer fluid...)

That said, if someone asked you "how's your car for fuel" and you answered "still pretty high", that would be a less unnatural use of "high" in reference to a car's fuel level (and would probably be taken to mean "more than half full" and "not in imminent danger of running out").

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .