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 formshole·less, adjectivehol·ey, adjective
Can be confusedhole whole (see synonym study at the current entry) (see synonym study at whole)holey holy wholly

Synonyms for hole

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for holey

Contemporary Examples of holey

  • When Orlean recently tweeted the question, “Is it ‘holy moly’ or ‘holey moley’ or ‘holy moley’?”

    The Daily Beast logo
    Timothy Hutton: Literary Sex God

    Sean Kennedy

    January 19, 2010

Historical Examples of holey

  • I hunted out the holey socks and then I turned my attention to the trunk.

    Talbot's Angles

    Amy E. Blanchard

  • He had not had a really satisfying meal since leaving Holey Lake.

    South from Hudson Bay

    E. C. [Ethel Claire] Brill

  • Don't get thinkin' of somethin' else and come down with one whole and one holey, same as you did last time.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

British Dictionary definitions for holey


adjective holeyer or holeyest

full of holes



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 holeshis socks were in holes
in the hole mainly US
  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)
(when intr, often foll by out) golf to hit (the ball) into the hole

Word Origin for hole

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

Word Origin and History for holey

late 14c., from hole + -y (2). The -e- retained so the eye may distinguish it from holy.



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

holey 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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with holey


In addition to the idioms beginning with hole

  • hole in one
  • hole in the wall
  • hole up

also see:

  • ace in the hole
  • black hole
  • in a bind (hole)
  • in the hole
  • money burns a hole in one's pocket
  • need like a hole in the head
  • pick holes in
  • square peg in a round hole
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.