Main definitions of mule in English

: mule1mule2

mule1

noun

  • 1The offspring of a donkey and a horse (strictly, a male donkey and a female horse), typically sterile and used as a beast of burden.

    Compare with hinny
    • ‘Christopher grabbed a coffee cup out of the pack that the mule was carrying.’
    • ‘It is like being kicked by a mule in the chest.’
    • ‘As hybrids, mules are almost always sterile.’
    • ‘Silene was waiting for me as I unloaded the mule and dragged the sacks of flour into the kitchen.’
    • ‘At the edge of her mind, she heard a mule braying loudly, in fear.’
    • ‘There was a farmer who wanted to get rid of this old mule.’
    • ‘The shock came yesterday, after one of the mules kicked another.’
    • ‘A popular method is to have mules carry different gun parts to their destination.’
    • ‘He entered the cocoa industry but after its decline started his own transport business with mule carts.’
    • ‘They hopped off their horses, not bothering to unload the mules.’
    • ‘The Israelites used various beasts of burden - mules, horses, camels and oxen.’
    • ‘My mother dumped me like an old mule to be left for death.’
    • ‘But because mules are sterile, breeding new champions is difficult.’
    • ‘Instead we often get stuck riding a reliable mule up a rough trail.’
    • ‘The world's first cloned mule was born on May 4, 2003.’
    • ‘To get up the hill, we had to ride these adorable mules.’
    • ‘The pack mules carrying the gold ore scattered in all directions, spilling ore over a wide area.’
    • ‘The mules were unloaded and swam across, following the bell mare.’
    • ‘Now, scientists at the University of Idaho have successfully cloned a mule.’
    • ‘Being the offspring of a male donkey and a mare, mules are sterile.’
    1. 1.1 An obstinate person.
      • ‘We're two stubborn old mules who need to have their own way.’
      • ‘I don't think Franzen is particularly gifted but he is a mule.’
      • ‘And I especially loved the part where Trace told Callie he loved her; I almost cried, but not before thinking that Callie is such a mule for being so stubborn.’
      • ‘An angry David Whitechapel was a stubborn mule, which refused to budge.’
    2. 1.2informal A courier for illegal drugs.
      • ‘Dealers and runners and mules and nine-year-old lookouts would be off street corners, and out of the line of fire.’
      • ‘She could have been a heroin mule or a gun smuggler for all anyone knew.’
      • ‘At his trial, it was stated that he was tempted to act as a drugs mule to help feed his huge gambling habit.’
      • ‘In the drug world, mules are used to carry the product into countries without being detected.’
      • ‘The mules wrap the cocaine in condoms and swallow them.’
      • ‘Maria, to bring money to her family and escape a stifling existence in her small Colombian town, risks becoming a mule for a drug ring.’
      • ‘The film doesn't gloss over the violent nature of the drugs industry, but its sympathetic portrait of the mules is quietly provocative.’
      • ‘And so you can accept that becoming a drugs mule is the only career opportunity that might offer financial salvation.’
      • ‘Drug mules, long agreed by all as the real carriers of weapons of mass destruction, routinely elude the army, security guards and high-tech scanners.’
      • ‘Police said he had been contracting drug mules to swallow and smuggle cocaine into Europe.’
      • ‘She found a quicker way to make money: being a drug mule.’
      • ‘A black poster at Kingston's airport is blunt: ‘Drug mules beware: It's a plane ticket to hell.’’
      • ‘I have come to the conclusion that my landlord moonlights as a mule for drug dealers.’
      • ‘Again, the harshest punishments often go to street dealers and mules who don't have much information about the drug world to give prosecutors in exchange for a lower sentence.’
      • ‘The profits are enormous and there is no shortage of impoverished drugs mules prepared to swallow tiny packets of pure cocaine and smuggle them into Britain.’
      • ‘‘Am I unwittingly being used as a drugs mule by some major Colombian Mr Big?’’
      • ‘Lloyd, the manager, is now a drug mule.’
      • ‘Police warned that she and other sniffer dogs would be regularly used to stop so-called human mules bringing down drugs from London to sell in Southampton and Portsmouth.’
      • ‘This is an indication that international drugs gangs are increasingly using mules to smuggle the narcotic into the country.’
      • ‘If it ever happens, it will just mean more greedy fools becoming mules and, again, add more cost to the overloaded Australian taxpayers to board, feed and entertain convicted drug runners in comfort.’
      contrabandist, runner, courier, bootlegger
      View synonyms
  • 2A hybrid plant or animal, especially a sterile one.

    • ‘A total of 989 female ducks were studied over three generations, as well as 4025 purebred offspring and 4125 male mule offspring.’
    • ‘Finch mules have always been more difficult to breed than the canaries or finches themselves, but some were less difficult than others.’
    • ‘Some of the considerable biodiversity of corals may come from underwater versions of mules, say researchers.’
    1. 2.1 Any of several standard cross-bred varieties of sheep.
      • ‘Special sale of mules, Greyface ewe lambs, on Saturday, September 11.’
      • ‘Another local farmer, Neil Heseltine, from Malham, was awarded a prize for his local pair of mule gimmer lambs.’
  • 3A kind of spinning machine producing yarn on spindles, invented by Samuel Crompton in 1779.

    • ‘Items which belonged to Crompton can be seen in the Hall along with part of a replica spinning mule.’
    • ‘When we look at it now we think of the great inventor Samuel Crompton, who grew up there and invented his spinning mule within its walls.’
    • ‘Within 30 years 120,000 people were working on spinning mules across the UK and it was estimated that 700,000 depended on them indirectly for their livelihood.’
    • ‘On each set of mule spindles, a male adult ‘minder’ engaged two junior assistants or piecers.’
    • ‘After the invention of the hand-operated cotton mule spinning machine in the 1760's, that time dropped to 300 hours.’
    • ‘Crompton's invention of the spinning mule in 1779 marked a major step forward in the Industrial Revolution.’
    • ‘His near contemporary, the shy and upright Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule that allowed Britain to corner the market in fine-spun cottons.’
    • ‘Past inventors have, of course, included Samuel Crompton of spinning mule fame.’
    • ‘Other activities will include Victorian toys to play with and demonstrations of the mill's spinning mules, waterwheel and the power loom.’
    • ‘The room in which the spinning mule was invented is still arranged as it may have looked in Samuel's time.’
    • ‘Morris said: ‘It was interesting to note that we planted a fir tree, because Samuel Crompton's mule was made from the same wood.’’
    • ‘They had a couple of spinning mules set up, either at home or in a rented room, or in a stall at one of the new mills.’
  • 4A small tractor or locomotive, typically one that is electrically powered.

    • ‘Mules are very tough machines and are about the perfect size.’
    • ‘The trolley pole is mounted on a cylindrical bearing member secured to the side of an electric mule or locomotive for pivotal movement about a vertical axis.’
  • 5A coin with the obverse and reverse of designs not originally intended to be used together.

    • ‘On Feb. 7 of that year, the Secret Service, after examining the mule, returned the coin to Baller, accompanied by a letter from Special Agent Richard M. McDrew.’
    • ‘There are three recognised mule coins from the Republic of India.’

Origin

Old English mūl, probably of Germanic origin, from Latin mulus, mula; reinforced in Middle English by Old French mule.

Pronunciation

mule

/mjuːl/

Main definitions of mule in English

: mule1mule2

mule2

noun

  • A woman's slipper or light shoe without a back.

    • ‘Munro shoes also designed the Duet sandal, a sophisticated shoe, that is a hybrid of a mule and sandal.’
    • ‘Try a ballerina flat, or an open mule with a smartly shaped heel.’
    • ‘She chose a pair of jeans instead of a summery skirt, a T-shirt over a singlet top, and mules over sandals.’
    • ‘Dress code: ‘Sporty geek chic’ for guys and ‘chichi, with mules and push-up bras’ for dolls.’
    • ‘These dolls express the ethos of their time, which has changed considerably in the 40 years since Barbie first wobbled out in her steep stiletto mules.’
    • ‘Throwbacks to a swell fashion trend of yesteryear, they spice up any pair of shoes, from ballet flats to mules or slinky stilettos.’
    • ‘The pointy-toed trend is prevalent in practically every style from slingbacks and mules to flats, boots and everything in between.’
    • ‘Instead, Rasband suggests finding a decent pair of microfiber or leather mules.’
    • ‘If you are looking for something more formal or trendy, go with mules, sleek leathers and simple designs and soles.’
    • ‘I prefer to go barefoot, but I have trainers, high heeled mules, loafers and flipflops.’
    • ‘She set down her bag and kicked off her tan suede mules as she walked back to her bedroom.’
    • ‘Avoid shallow styles like most sandals and mules and don't go barefoot (neither of these options supports your foot).’
    • ‘This spring, watch out for flat mules as a big trend.’
    • ‘And, unless you are adept at teetering in mules, wearing shoes without tights is uncomfortable, especially if you have to walk more than a few yards.’
    • ‘Soft or hard sole slippers, moccasins, slip-ons or mules - these are just a few of the appealing styles you can find.’
    • ‘The problem with the walk across the beach is that it is a stone beach, not a speck of sand in sight, and I am wearing stiletto-heeled mules.’
    • ‘I also don't think I can continue to wear my loafer mules for much longer.’
    • ‘A bare foot is what grips your foot to the shoe and keeps the mules from being treacherous.’
    • ‘Right now, she's into mules, but I'll take any of her slingbacks and high-heeled sandals.’
    • ‘Avoid skinny heels, even if they're low, and avoid mules or slingbacks until you're more comfortable.’
    moccasin, house shoe
    pump
    View synonyms

Origin

Mid 16th century: from French, ‘slipper’.

Pronunciation

mule

/mjuːl/