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[hohl] /hoʊl/
an opening through something; gap; aperture:
a hole in the roof; a hole in my sock.
a hollow place in a solid body or mass; a cavity:
a hole in the ground.
the excavated habitation of an animal; burrow.
a small, dingy, or shabby place:
I couldn't live in a hole like that.
a place of solitary confinement; dungeon.
an embarrassing position or predicament:
to find oneself in a hole.
a cove or small harbor.
a fault or flaw:
They found serious holes in his reasoning.
a deep, still place in a stream:
a swimming hole.
  1. a small cavity, into which a marble, ball, or the like is to be played.
  2. a score made by so playing.
  1. the circular opening in a green into which the ball is to be played.
  2. a part of a golf course from a tee to the hole corresponding to it, including fairway, rough, and hazards.
  3. the number of strokes taken to hit the ball from a tee into the hole corresponding to it.
Informal. opening; slot:
The radio program was scheduled for the p.m. hole. We need an experienced person to fill a hole in our accounting department.
Metalworking. (in wire drawing) one reduction of a section.
Electronics. a mobile vacancy in the electronic structure of a semiconductor that acts as a positive charge carrier and has equivalent mass.
Aeronautics. an air pocket that causes a plane or other aircraft to drop suddenly.
verb (used with object), holed, holing.
to make a hole or holes in.
to put or drive into a hole.
Golf. to hit the ball into (a hole).
to bore (a tunnel, passage, etc.).
verb (used without object), holed, holing.
to make a hole or holes.
Verb phrases
hole out, Golf. to strike the ball into a hole:
He holed out in five, one over par.
hole up,
  1. to go into a hole; retire for the winter, as a hibernating animal.
  2. to hide, as from pursuers, the police, etc.:
    The police think the bank robbers are holed up in Chicago.
burn a hole in one's pocket, to urge one to spend money quickly:
His inheritance was burning a hole in his pocket.
hole in the wall, a small or confining place, especially one that is dingy, shabby, or out-of-the-way:
Their first shop was a real hole in the wall.
in a / the hole,
  1. in debt; in straitened circumstances:
    After Christmas I am always in the hole for at least a month.
  2. Baseball, Softball. pitching or batting with the count of balls or balls and strikes to one's disadvantage, especially batting with a count of two strikes and one ball or none.
  3. Stud Poker. being the card or one of the cards dealt face down in the first round:
    a king in the hole.
make a hole in, to take a large part of:
A large bill from the dentist made a hole in her savings.
pick a hole / holes in, to find a fault or flaw in:
As soon as I presented my argument, he began to pick holes in it.
Also, poke a hole/holes in.
Origin of hole
before 900; Middle English; Old English hol hole, cave, orig. neuter of hol (adj.) hollow; cognate with German hohl hollow
Related forms
holeless, adjective
holey, adjective
Can be confused
hole, whole (see synonym study at the current entry; see synonym study at whole)
holey, holy, wholly.
1, 2. pit, hollow, concavity. Hole, cavity, excavation refer to a hollow place in anything. Hole is the common word for this idea: a hole in turf. Cavity is a more formal or scientific term for a hollow within the body or in a substance, whether with or without a passage outward: a cavity in a tooth; the cranial cavity. An excavation is an extended hole made by digging out or removing material: an excavation before the construction of a building. 3. den, cave; lair, retreat. 4. hovel, shack. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hole up
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He took another step and plunged into a hole up to his shoulders.

    The Rock of Chickamauga Joseph A. Altsheler
  • I'll go down and see, if you'll just fix that hole up for me.

    Alice Adams Booth Tarkington
  • Let's light out for the cap-rock an' hole up for a coupla days.

    Oh, You Tex! William Macleod Raine
  • What do you know about that hole up there, under that rock that is shaped like the nose of a dog?

    A Woman at Bay Nicholas Carter
  • If she'd just wanted to hole up, that was where she would have had the best chance to do it successfully.

    Legacy James H Schmitz
  • Nolan believes she will hole up for the night somewhere above.

    The Defiant Agents Andre Alice Norton
  • Watch the hole up under that stub of a limb while I tap on the trunk.


    Dallas Lore Sharp
  • What at last brought her back was a yawn and his remark that he must "hole up" for the night.

    Ewing\'s Lady Harry Leon Wilson
  • "We'll have to hole up somewhere for the night," Duncan said.

    The World That Couldn't Be Clifford Donald Simak
British Dictionary definitions for hole up

hole up

verb (intransitive, adverb)
(of an animal) to hibernate, esp in a cave
(informal) to hide or remain secluded


an area hollowed out in a solid
an opening made in or through something
an animal's hiding place or burrow
(informal) an unattractive place, such as a town or a dwelling
(informal) a cell or dungeon
(US, informal) a small anchorage
a fault (esp in the phrase pick holes in)
(slang) a difficult and embarrassing situation
the cavity in various games into which the ball must be thrust
(on a golf course)
  1. the cup on each of the greens
  2. each of the divisions of a course (usually 18) represented by the distance between the tee and a green
  3. the score made in striking the ball from the tee into the hole
  1. a vacancy in a nearly full band of quantum states of electrons in a semiconductor or an insulator. Under the action of an electric field holes behave as carriers of positive charge
  2. (as modifier): hole current
  3. a vacancy in the nearly full continuum of quantum states of negative energy of fermions. A hole appears as the antiparticle of the fermion
in holes, so worn as to be full of holes: his socks were in holes
(mainly US) in the hole
  1. in debt
  2. (of a card, the hole card, in stud poker) dealt face down in the first round
make a hole in, to consume or use a great amount of (food, drink, money, etc): to make a hole in a bottle of brandy
to make a hole or holes in (something)
(golf) when intr, often foll by out. to hit (the ball) into the hole
Word Origin
Old English hol; related to Gothic hulundi, German Höhle, Old Norse hylr pool, Latin caulis hollow stem; see hollow
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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Word Origin and History for hole up



Old English hol "orifice, hollow place, cave, perforation," from Proto-Germanic *hul (cf. Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German hol, Middle Dutch hool, Old Norse holr, German hohl "hollow," Gothic us-hulon "to hollow out"), from PIE root *kel- (see cell).

As a contemptuous word for "small dingy lodging or abode" it is attested from 1610s. Meaning "a fix, scrape, mess" is from 1760. Obscene slang use for "vulva" is implied from mid-14c. Hole in the wall "small and unpretentious place" is from 1822; to hole up first recorded 1875. To need (something) like a hole in the head, applied to something useless or detrimental, first recorded 1944 in entertainment publications, probably a translation of a Yiddish expression, cf. ich darf es vi a loch in kop.



"to make a hole," Old English holian "to hollow out, scoop out" (see hole (n.)). Related: Holed; holing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hole up in Science
A gap, usually the valence band of an insulator or semiconductor, that would normally be filled with one electron. If an electron accelerated by a voltage moves into a gap, it leaves a gap behind it, and in this way the hole itself appears to move through the substance. Even though holes are in fact the absence of a negatively charged particle (an electron), they can be treated theoretically as positively charged particles, whose motion gives rise to electric current.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for hole up

hole up

verb phrase

  1. To hide; take refuge; hide out: Long Island, where he might hole up for a day or two
  2. To stay for a time; lodge; crash: thinking about holing up for the night (1875+)



  1. Any nasty or unpleasant place; dump, joint: The restaurant turned out to be a loathsome little hole (1616+)
  2. The vulva or anus (1340+)

Related Terms

ace in the hole, big hole, brown, bunghole, cornhole, in a hole, in the hole, the nineteenth hole, not know one's ass from one's elbow, rathole

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with hole up

hole up

Take refuge or shelter, hide, as in I spent most of the cruise holed up in my cabin. This usage alludes to animals hibernating in winter or hiding from attack in caves or holes. [ Late 1800s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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