- 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 mules
Three other mules from the Crimean city of Sevastopol were detained at a road checkpoint with $400,000 in cash on them.Ukraine Foreign Minister Speaks of Mistrust—and a Truce
April 19, 2014
Each slave then attend to the respective chores given—feeding the mules, cutting wood, etc.The ‘12 Years a Slave’ Book Shows Slavery As Even More Appalling Than In the Film
October 18, 2013
Loose hem-lines, closed-toe Manolo Blahnik mules, and tight black headbands.At Victoria Beckham, Boy Meets Girl
September 8, 2013
“Some of them are kidnapped and used as [drug] mules,” she says.A Beauty Queen Takes Kabul
September 17, 2010
He also procured a couple of mules to transport his baggage.A Sketch of the Life of Brig. Gen. Francis Marion
William Dobein James
Great walls of earth and stone sheltered the horses and mules.The Story of the Malakand Field Force
Sir Winston S. Churchill
One of these fellows, as it chanced, was their own guide, who had come in from tending the mules.
"They are paying themselves for the mules and horses," said Fray Henriques with a shrug.
The mules stopped, and through her light veil I saw that she was handsome.The Cavalier
George Washington Cable
- (tr) Australian to perform the Mules operation on (a sheep)
- 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 mules
"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 mules
see stubborn as a mule.