in a hole


  1. an opening through something; gap; aperture: a hole in the roof; a hole in my sock.
  2. a hollow place in a solid body or mass; a cavity: a hole in the ground.
  3. the excavated habitation of an animal; burrow.
  4. a small, dingy, or shabby place: I couldn’t live in a hole like that.
  5. a place of solitary confinement; dungeon.
  6. an embarrassing position or predicament: to find oneself in a hole.
  7. a cove or small harbor.
  8. a fault or flaw: They found serious holes in his reasoning.
  9. a deep, still place in a stream: a swimming hole.
  10. Sports.
    1. a small cavity, into which a marble, ball, or the like is to be played.
    2. a score made by so playing.
  11. Golf.
    1. the circular opening in a green into which the ball is to be played.
    2. a part of a golf course from a tee to the hole corresponding to it, including fairway, rough, and hazards.
    3. the number of strokes taken to hit the ball from a tee into the hole corresponding to it.
  12. Informal. opening; slot: The radio program was scheduled for the p.m. hole. We need an experienced person to fill a hole in our accounting department.
  13. Metalworking. (in wire drawing) one reduction of a section.
  14. Electronics. a mobile vacancy in the electronic structure of a semiconductor that acts as a positive charge carrier and has equivalent mass.
  15. Aeronautics. an air pocket that causes a plane or other aircraft to drop suddenly.

verb (used with object), holed, hol·ing.

  1. to make a hole or holes in.
  2. to put or drive into a hole.
  3. Golf. to hit the ball into (a hole).
  4. to bore (a tunnel, passage, etc.).

verb (used without object), holed, hol·ing.

  1. to make a hole or holes.

Verb Phrases

  1. hole out, Golf. to strike the ball into a hole: He holed out in five, one over par.
  2. hole up,
    1. to go into a hole; retire for the winter, as a hibernating animal.
    2. to hide, as from pursuers, the police, etc.: The police think the bank robbers are holed up in Chicago.

  1. burn a hole in one’s pocket, to urge one to spend money quickly: His inheritance was burning a hole in his pocket.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. make a hole in, to take a large part of: A large bill from the dentist made a hole in her savings.
  5. 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.


  1. an area hollowed out in a solid
  2. an opening made in or through something
  3. an animal’s hiding place or burrow
  4. informal an unattractive place, such as a town or a dwelling
  5. informal a cell or dungeon
  6. US informal a small anchorage
  7. a fault (esp in the phrase pick holes in)
  8. slang a difficult and embarrassing situation
  9. the cavity in various games into which the ball must be thrust
  10. (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
  11. physics
    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
  12. in holes so worn as to be full of holeshis socks were in holes
  13. 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
  14. 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


  1. to make a hole or holes in (something)
  2. (when intr, often foll by out) golf to hit (the ball) into the hole

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.

  1. 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.

see in a bind.

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

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