- the sterile offspring of a female horse and a male donkey, valued as a work animal, having strong muscles, a body shaped like a horse, and donkeylike long ears, small feet, and sure-footedness.Compare hinny.
- any hybrid between the donkey and the horse.
- Informal. a very stubborn person.
- Botany. any sterile hybrid.
- Slang. a person paid to carry or transport contraband, especially drugs, for a smuggler.
- a small locomotive used for pulling rail cars, as in a coal yard or on an industrial site, or for towing, as of ships through canal locks.
- Also called spinning mule. a machine for spinning cotton or other fibers into yarn and winding the yarn on spindles.
- Nautical. a large triangular staysail set between two masts and having its clew set well aft.
- Numismatics. a hybrid coin having the obverse of one issue and the reverse of the succeeding issue, or vice versa.
- Biology. a hybrid, especially one between the canary and some other finch.
Origin of mule1
- a lounging slipper that covers the toes and instep or only the instep.
- a woman's shoe resembling this.
Origin of mule2
Examples from the Web for mule
He weighed only 185 pounds, but he had killer instincts and rabbit quickness and the stamina of a mule.Football Great Bob Suffridge Wanders Through the End Zone of Life
September 6, 2014
He took the left one and, with a pile driver of a mule kick, almost ripped it off its hinges.The Night the SEALS Captured the Butcher of Fallujah
November 11, 2013
Those players called Robinson “Mule” because he worked them hard as pack animals.Eddie Robinson, College Football’s Winningest Coach
Samuel G. Freedman
August 23, 2013
In some places we want cows but not bison, or mule deer but not coyotes, or cars but not elk.Why Do We Save Some Species and Let Others Get Devastated?
Melissa Holbrook Pierson
May 21, 2013
Steadily, our gunman pushed forward, his mule high-stepping through brush.An Obsessive’s Search for a Lost Jungle City
Christopher S. Stewart
December 30, 2012
They went to the camp we had left, but neither he nor the mule was there.The Exploring Expedition to the Rocky Mountains, Oregon and California
Brevet Col. J.C. Fremont
The popular type and exponent of obstinacy is the mule, a most intelligent animal.The Devil's Dictionary
Duncan had been wont to say of him that Kellogg could talk the hind-leg off of a mule.The Fortune Hunter
Louis Joseph Vance
That he had observed, from his station in the rear, that she sat her mule as if she were exhausted.Little Dorrit
Then Robin checked his mule quickly and leaped from off its back.The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood
- the sterile offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, used as a beast of burdenCompare hinny 1
- any hybrid animala mule canary
- Also called: spinning mule a machine invented by Samuel Crompton that spins cotton into yarn and winds the yarn on spindles
- informal an obstinate or stubborn person
- slang a person who is paid to transport illegal drugs for a dealer
- a backless shoe or slipper
Word Origin and History for mule
"offspring of donkey and horse," from Old English mul, Old French mul "mule, hinny" (12c., fem. mule), both from Latin mulus (fem. mula) "a mule," probably from a pre-Latin Mediterranean language.
The mule combines the strength of the horse with the endurance and surefootedness of the ass, and is extensively bred for certain employments for which it is more suited than either; it is ordinarily incapable of procreation. With no good grounds, the mule is a proverbial type of obstinacy. [OED]
Properly, the offspring of a he-ass and a mare; that of a she-ass and a stallion is technically a hinny. Used allusively of hybrids and things of mixed nature. As a type of spinning machine, attested from 1797 (so called because a hybrid of distinct warp and woof machines). Meaning "obstinate, stupid, or stubborn person" is from 1470s; that of "narcotics smuggler or courier" first attested 1935.
"loose slipper," 1560s, from Middle French mule, from Latin mulleus calceus "red high-soled shoe," worn by Roman patricians, from mullus "red" (see mullet (n.1)). Related: Mules.
Idioms and Phrases with mule
see stubborn as a mule.