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dry hole

any well drilled for oil or gas that does not yield enough to be commercially profitable.
Also called duster.
Origin of dry hole
An Americanism dating back to 1880-85 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for dry hole
Historical Examples
  • If the well is a dry hole, it does not cost the Indian anything.

    Battling the Clouds Captain Frank Cobb
  • Every dry hole gives a greater chance that the next will be full.

    Spinifex and Sand David W Carnegie
  • With a nod of assent the youth pushed forward, gained the rock, and found the place where water had once been, a dry hole!

    The Settler and the Savage R.M. Ballantyne
  • The shiftless one like himself was a true son of the wilderness and he would be as clever as a fox in finding a warm, dry hole.

    The Keepers of the Trail

    Joseph A. Altsheler
  • Following the trail, he rode through the cedars to come upon the dry hole where the pool had once been.

  • Which you are perfectly safe in saying now—since the past is a dry hole.

  • A dry hole was drilled, the exhaust air from the hollow drill blowing the dust from the hole keeping it clean.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
  • I feel a great deal better than if I had sunk thirty or forty thousand dollars in a dry hole.

  • Then came the blow-up, and it turned out that his well was just a dry hole in the ground.

  • Sometimes you git a payin' well an' a dry hole only a few hunderd feet apart.

    David Harum

    Edward Noyes Westcott
British Dictionary definitions for dry hole

dry hole

(in the oil industry) a well that is drilled but does not produce oil or gas in commercially worthwhile amounts
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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