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mole

1
[mohl]
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noun
  1. any of various small insectivorous mammals, especially of the family Talpidae, living chiefly underground, and having velvety fur, very small eyes, and strong forefeet.
  2. a spy who becomes part of and works from within the ranks of an enemy governmental staff or intelligence agency.Compare double agent.
  3. Machinery. a large, powerful machine for boring through earth or rock, used in the construction of tunnels.
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Origin of mole

1
1350–1400; Middle English molle; akin to Middle Dutch, Middle Low German mol

mole

2
[mohl]
noun
  1. a small, congenital spot or blemish on the human skin, usually of a dark color, slightly elevated, and sometimes hairy; nevus.
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Origin of mole

2
before 1000; Middle English; Old English māl; cognate with Old High German meil spot, Gothic mail wrinkle

mole

3
[mohl]
noun
  1. a massive structure, especially of stone, set up in the water, as for a breakwater or a pier.
  2. an anchorage or harbor protected by such a structure.
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Origin of mole

3
First recorded in 1540–50, mole is from the Latin word mōlēs mass, dam, mole

mole

4

or mol

[mohl]
noun Chemistry.
  1. the basic unit in the International System of Units(SI), representing the amount of a substance expressed in grams containing as many atoms, molecules, or ions as the number of atoms in 12 grams of carbon-12 (which is Avogadro's number, or 6.022 × 1023).
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Origin of mole

4
1900–05; < German Mol, short for Molekül molecule

mole

5
[mohl]
noun Pathology.
  1. a fleshy mass in the uterus formed by a hemorrhagic dead ovum.
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Origin of mole

5
1605–15; < New Latin mola, special use of mola millstone

mole

6
[moh-ley; Spanish maw-le]
noun Mexican Cookery.
  1. a spicy sauce flavored with chocolate, usually served with turkey or chicken.
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Origin of mole

6
1925–30; < Mexican Spanish < Nahuatl mōlli sauce; cf. guacamole
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for mole

freckle, informer, blot, birthmark, nevus, infiltrator, agent

Examples from the Web for mole

Contemporary Examples of mole

Historical Examples of mole

  • I fell asleep and dreamed that I was in the fracas at the end of the mole.

  • You think this is a human village; but it is the village of me, your master the mole.

    Aino Folk-Tales

    Basil Hall Chamberlain

  • What a fearful thing, something was boring away like a mole!

    L'Assommoir

    Emile Zola

  • He awaited them on the mole, supported by a group of officers.

    Captain Blood

    Rafael Sabatini

  • He had accomplished much, working as a mole works, in the dark.

    The Crevice

    William John Burns and Isabel Ostrander


British Dictionary definitions for mole

mole

1
noun
  1. any small burrowing mammal, of the family Talpidae, of Europe, Asia, and North and Central America: order Insectivora (insectivores). They have velvety, typically dark fur and forearms specialized for digging
  2. golden mole any small African burrowing molelike mammal of the family Chrysochloridae, having copper-coloured fur: order Insectivora (insectivores)
  3. informal a spy who has infiltrated an organization and, often over a long period, become a trusted member of it
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Word Origin for mole

C14: from Middle Dutch mol, of Germanic origin; compare Middle Low German mol

mole

2
noun
  1. a breakwater
  2. a harbour protected by a breakwater
  3. a large tunnel excavator for use in soft rock
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Word Origin for mole

C16: from French môle, from Latin mōlēs mass

mole

3
noun
  1. pathol a nontechnical name for naevus
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Word Origin for mole

Old English māl; related to Old High German meil spot

mole

4
noun
  1. the basic SI unit of amount of substance; the amount that contains as many elementary entities as there are atoms in 0.012 kilogram of carbon-12. The entity must be specified and may be an atom, a molecule, an ion, a radical, an electron, a photon, etcSymbol: mol
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Word Origin for mole

C20: from German Mol, short for Molekül molecule

mole

5
noun
  1. pathol a fleshy growth in the uterus formed by the degeneration of fetal tissues
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Word Origin for mole

C17: medical use of Latin mola millstone

mole

6
noun
  1. a spicy Mexican sauce made from chili and chocolate
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Word Origin for mole

C20: from Mexican Spanish from Nahuatl molli sauce
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 mole

n.1

spot on skin, Old English mal "spot, mark, blemish," especially on cloth or linen, from Proto-Germanic *mailan "spot, mark" (cf. Old High German meil, German Mal, Gothic mail "wrinkle"), from PIE root *mai- "to stain, defile" (cf. Greek miainein "to stain, defile," see miasma). Specifically of dark marks on human skin from late 14c.

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n.2

type of small burrowing mammal (Talpa europea), mid-14c., probably from obsolete moldwarp, literally "earth-thrower." Spy sense first recorded 1974 in John le Carré (but suggested from early 20c.), from notion of "burrowing." Metaphoric use for "one who works in darkness" is from c.1600.

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n.3

"breakwater," 1540s, from Middle French môle "breakwater" (16c.), ultimately from Latin moles "mass, massive structure, barrier," from PIE root *mo- "to exert oneself" (cf. Greek molos "effort," molis "hardly, scarcely;" German mühen "to tire," müde "weary, tired;" Russian majat' "to fatigue, exhaust," maja "hard work").

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n.4

unit of molecular quantity, 1902, from German Mol coined 1900 by German chemist Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1912), short for Molekül (see molecule).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

mole in Science

mole

1
[mōl]
  1. A small, usually pigmented, benign growth on the skin.
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mole

2
[mōl]
  1. The amount of an element, compound, or other substance that has the same number of basic particles as 12 grams of Carbon-12. The number of particles making up a mole is Avogadro's number. For elements and compounds, the mass of one mole, in grams, is roughly equal to the atomic or molecular weight of the substance. For example, carbon dioxide, CO2, has a molecular weight of 44; therefore, one mole of it weighs 44 grams.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.