Origin of hole

before 900; Middle English; Old English hol hole, cave, orig. neuter of hol (adj.) hollow; cognate with German hohl hollow
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.
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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for in the hole


/ (həʊl) /



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

Science definitions for in the hole


[ hōl ]

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 in the hole (1 of 2)

in the hole


In debt; in trouble, especially financial trouble. For example, Joan is too extravagant; she's always in the hole, or Buying all these Christmas presents will put us in the hole for the next few months. [Colloquial; early 1800s] Also see in a bind.


In trouble in a competitive sport. For example, At three balls and no strikes, the pitcher's in the hole, or The batter's got two strikes on him; he's in the hole. [Slang; late 1800s]


In a card game, scoring lower than zero. For example, Only one hand's been dealt and I'm already three points in the hole. This expression alludes to the practice of circling a minus score in the old game of euchre. The antonym for all three usages is out of the hole, as in It took careful financial management to get Kevin out of the hole, or An experienced pitcher often can manage to get out of the hole. Also see ace in the hole.

Idioms and Phrases with in the hole (2 of 2)


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.