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  1. a hollow form or matrix for giving a particular shape to something in a molten or plastic state.
  2. the shape created or imparted to a thing by a mold.
  3. something formed in or on a mold: a mold of jelly.
  4. a frame on which something is formed or made.
  5. shape or form.
  6. a prototype, example, or precursor.
  7. a distinctive nature, character, or type: a person of a simple mold.
  8. Shipbuilding.
    1. a three-dimensional pattern used to shape a plate after it has been softened by heating.
    2. a template for a frame.
  9. Architecture.
    1. a molding.
    2. a group of moldings.
verb (used with object)
  1. to work into a required shape or form; shape.
  2. to shape or form in or on a mold.
  3. Metallurgy. to form a mold of or from, in order to make a casting.
  4. to produce by or as if by shaping material; form.
  5. to have influence in determining or forming: to mold the character of a child.
  6. to ornament with moldings.
Also especially British, mould.

Origin of mold1

1175–1225; (noun) Middle English molde < Old French modle < Latin modulus module; (v.) Middle English, derivative of the noun
Related formsmold·a·ble, mould·a·ble, adjectivemold·a·bil·i·ty, mould·a·bil·i·ty, noun


  1. a growth of minute fungi forming on vegetable or animal matter, commonly as a downy or furry coating, and associated with decay or dampness.
  2. any of the fungi that produce such a growth.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. to become or cause to become overgrown or covered with mold.
Also especially British, mould.

Origin of mold2

1150–1200; late Middle English mowlde, apparently noun use of variant of earlier mowled, past participle of moulen, mawlen to grow moldy, cognate with dialectal Danish mugle


  1. loose, friable earth, especially when rich in organic matter and favorable to the growth of plants.
  2. British Dialect. ground; earth.
Also especially British, mould.

Origin of mold3

before 900; Middle English, Old English molde earth, dust, ground; cognate with Gothic mulda dust; akin to meal2, mill1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for mould


US mold

  1. a shaped cavity used to give a definite form to fluid or plastic material
  2. a frame on which something may be constructed
  3. something shaped in or made on a mould
  4. shape, form, design, or pattern
  5. specific nature, character, or typeheroic mould
verb (tr)
  1. to make in a mould
  2. to shape or form, as by using a mould
  3. to influence or directto mould opinion
  4. to cling tothe skirt moulds her figure
  5. metallurgy to make (a material such as sand) into a mould that is used in casting
Derived Formsmouldable or US moldable, adjectivemouldability or US moldability, noun

Word Origin

C13 (n): changed from Old French modle, from Latin modulus a small measure, module


US mold

  1. a coating or discoloration caused by various saprotrophic fungi that develop in a damp atmosphere on the surface of stored food, fabrics, wallpaper, etc
  2. any of the fungi that causes this growth
  1. to become or cause to become covered with this growth
Also called: mildew

Word Origin

C15: dialect (Northern English) mowlde mouldy, from the past participle of moulen to become mouldy, probably of Scandinavian origin; compare Old Norse mugla mould


US mold

  1. loose soil, esp when rich in organic matter
  2. poetic the earth

Word Origin

Old English molde; related to Old High German molta soil, Gothic mulde


noun, verb
  1. the US spelling of mould 1
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

Word Origin and History for mould

chiefly British English spelling of mold in various senses. Related: Moulded; moulding.



also mould, "hollow shape," c.1200, originally "fashion, form; nature, native constitution, character," metathesized from Old French modle "model, plan, copy; way, manner" (12c., Modern French moule), from Latin modulum (nominative modulus) "measure, model," diminutive of modus "manner" (see mode (1)). From c.1300 as "pattern or model by which something is shaped or made." To break the mold "render impossible the creation of another" is from 1560s.



also mould, "furry fungus," early 15c., probably from moulde, past participle of moulen "to grow moldy" (early 13c.), related to Old Norse mygla "grow moldy," possibly from Proto-Germanic *(s)muk- indicating "wetness, slipperiness," from PIE *meug- (see mucus). Or it might have evolved from (or been influenced by) Old English molde "loose earth" (see mold (n.3)).



also mould, "loose earth," Old English molde "earth, sand, dust, soil; land, country, world," from Proto-Germanic *mulda (cf. Old Frisian molde "earth, soil," Old Norse mold "earth," Middle Dutch moude, Dutch moude, Old High German molta "dust, earth," Gothic mulda "dust"), from PIE root *mele- "to rub, grind" (see meal (n.2)). Specifically, since late (Christian) Old English, "the earth of the grave."



also mould, mid-14c., "to mix, blend;" late 14c. "to knead, shape," from mold (n.1). Figurative sense (of character, etc.) is from c.1600. Related: Molded; molding.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mould in Science


  1. Any of various fungi that often form a fuzzy growth (called a mycelium) on the surface of organic matter. Some molds cause food to spoil, but others are beneficial, such as those used to make certain cheeses and those from which antibiotics like penicillin are developed. The molds do not form a distinct phylogenetic grouping but belong to various phyla including the ascomycetes and the zygomycetes. See also slime mold.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with mould


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.