One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A small burrowing insectivorous mammal with dark velvety fur, a long muzzle, and very small eyes.
Family Talpidae: several genera and species, including the eastern mole (Scalopus aquaticus) of North America
mouldwarp, mouldywarpView synonyms
- ‘Although moles feed on beneficial invertebrates as well as lawn pests, they rarely affect the populations of either.’
- ‘The fur of moles is velvety and can lie equally well in any direction, which allows easy movement in the burrows backward as well as forwards.’
- ‘After I'd mowed the other day, a mole burrowed just under the surface of the lawn, leaving mounds of dirt and raised tunnel-bumps all over the place.’
- ‘Even though we're on the edge of a major city, our yard is populated by a variety of mice, moles, squirrels, chipmunks and opossums.’
- ‘While bats are highly specialized for flight, they share anatomical characters with the Insectivora, the mammalian taxon that includes shrews and moles.’
2A spy who achieves over a long period an important position within the security defenses of a country.
spy, agent, secret agent, double agent, undercover agent, operative, plant, infiltratorView synonyms
- ‘The FBI's polygraph program has similarly failed to yield any moles.’
- ‘He is told that there is a mole within his agency assisting with the plot.’
- ‘What about a mole being a double agent who establishes a cover long before beginning espionage?’
- ‘The police and the Triads plant a young mole in the other's camp, each of which rises to a position of influence over a period of years.’
- ‘He confessed that he had been a KGB mole for almost a decade and had provided the KGB with secrets that compromised more than 100 CIA operations in Russia.’
- ‘Intelligence officials believe he was the mole.’
- ‘I don't know how they found out about her… but my gut instinct tells me that there is a mole in the CIA.’
- ‘This incident took place at the same time the FBI was conducting a top secret probe into whether there was a mole operating in the bureau.’
- ‘There may have been a mole planted by the security services inside the terror cells in the country.’
- ‘The others that he talked to are incredulous at the thought of a mole because of their excellent anti-espionage program.’
- ‘The report listed the Netherlands, Britain, Germany and France as places where the ring is operating and said that ‘it is trying today to plant moles in central Europe.’’
- ‘That search for the supposed mole within CIA severely damaged the careers of some CIA officers.’
- ‘Unbeknownst to John J., he has been set up by a mole in the operation.’
- ‘Things get dangerous when the recruit is given the special assignment of rooting out a suspected mole that has infiltrated the Agency.’
- ‘He started an internal witchhunt that targeted exactly the wrong people, leaving KGB moles undisturbed.’
- ‘The West stopped the old ways of planting moles and spooks deep into other societies for decades, so they could learn the cultures and linguistic nuances.’
- ‘For more than one year they had sat on information regarding the alleged mole, compromising security, he said.’
- ‘But without effective compartmentation, a single, well-placed mole can trigger an intelligence leak of catastrophic proportions.’
- ‘The lawyers were alerted by a journalist who said that Operation Torison was part of a major British intelligence gathering exercise involving a mole high up within the republican movement.’
- ‘He sends in his best officer, Jin, as a mole to infiltrate the group.’
- 2.1 Someone within an organization who anonymously betrays confidential information.
- ‘By filling the government ranks with low-level corporate moles, the plan will make the corruption of government even easier.’
- ‘The combative Canadian businessman summarily ejected him from the board, blackening his character as a mole and provider of information to the tabloid press.’
- ‘One of Asymmetrical Information's moles forwards this item from Businessweek.’
- ‘In these days of public inquiries into just about anything, perhaps the Council ought to instigate one of its own to see if the Leeds Rhinos managed to insert a mole in the Bradford planning department.’
- ‘I've good reason to believe there's a mole in our organization.’
- ‘For £50,000 we will finger moles within your organisation.’
- ‘But he didn't just quit, instead he became a mole at the heart of the movement, passing information to the anti-Fascist media.’
- ‘A secret dossier from my mole in the company revealed a number of new spots, as well as old favourites, that I had missed on previous visits.’
- ‘When we were in California last week, a mole told us that nothing upsets marketers more than revealing the real names of computer chips.’
- ‘After all, if the mole was leaking information to hit men, then that was a potential risk to Harmony's safety, wasn't it?’
- ‘There must be a few liberal moles toiling anonymously inside the conservative news channel who can smuggle these things to the outside world, right?’
- ‘It turned out that a mole within texted out the decision while the committee was still locked in discussion.’
- ‘The film was made after one of the BNP's Bradford organisers, Andy Sykes, decided to become a mole and helped reporter Jason Gwynne secure undercover footage.’
- ‘All it takes is a leaked print of a film from a studio mole, or an advance copy from an Academy Award screener, or a filched workprint, and you have a pirated version ready to download.’
- ‘A councillor who owed £640 in rent arrears has called for the town hall mole who leaked information to the newspaper to be sacked.’
- ‘He is a dastardly turncoat Democratic mole, who betrayed the good people of this country for purely political reasons.’
- ‘Not being originally of the community, the mole cannot really betray.’
- ‘We knew that the opposition had a mole in our organization, but no one ever suspected that Albert was involved.’
- ‘Campaigners against the arms trade have accused their own chief paid organiser of being a mole secretly working on behalf of their opponents.’
- ‘I've been out in the trenches but my moles have kept me informed of all the relevant footy gossip as we approach finals time again.’
Late Middle English: from the Germanic base of Middle Dutch and Middle Low German mol.
A small, often slightly raised blemish on the skin made dark by a high concentration of melanin.
mark, freckle, blotch, discoloration, spot, blemishView synonyms
- ‘I have quite a few moles naturally on my skin and I should have listened to him, but I didn't.’
- ‘After a discussion that included a review of some photographs of melanomas, the patient agreed to the arm biopsy and to leave the facial mole alone.’
- ‘She stares in the mirror, scrutinizing her hair, her moles, her skin.’
- ‘This is where such characteristics as a facial twitch or a well-placed mole come in handy.’
- ‘Once you are suspicious of changes in a coloured skin mole, don't delay in reporting the condition for an expert opinion.’
- ‘He had pale, clear skin with nary a blemish, aside from a tiny mole on the corner of his full lower lip.’
- ‘The border of the mole should be smooth, with a clear distinction between skin and the mole.’
- ‘He was unshaven with a mole on his right temple and was wearing a brown-coloured shirt.’
- ‘The signs of malignant change in a mole are very important to know.’
- ‘Although moles do often change slightly over a lifetime, that change should not occur over months or years.’
- ‘It's essential that people monitor their moles and skin blemishes and report any changes in them.’
- ‘Melanoma first appears as a mole or skin discoloration.’
- ‘Coral, a pretty woman with olive-tan skin dotted with small moles and full plum lips, was dating a man seven years her senior.’
- ‘‘Well, you have a mole right there,’ Caleb informed him, pointing to the little freckle.’
- ‘A nurse whose life was saved after a colleague spotted a cancerous mole on her leg helped to screen others at a skin cancer screening clinic yesterday.’
- ‘Because a shaved mole's ‘roots’ are left in the skin, the mole may grow back.’
- ‘The only blemish is a small mole just under his left eye, but somehow that little imperfection makes him so much better looking.’
- ‘She added: ‘We are negotiating with a retailer so we can offer free screening clinics for moles in stores across the country.’’
- ‘People in Bradford are being urged to get their moles checked at a skin cancer open day.’
- ‘The first signs appear through existing markings on the skin, such as moles or freckles, which may become larger, redder or rougher.’
- ‘Her knuckles were full of tiny fissures and wrinkles, the backs covered with freckles, moles and scars.’
Old English māl ‘discolored spot’, of Germanic origin.
1A large solid structure on a shore serving as a pier, breakwater, or causeway.
breakwater, groyne, dyke, pier, jetty, sea wall, embankment, causewayView synonyms
- ‘For a while, a plan for a harbour mole sat on the drawing board, but when the Armed Constabulary were transferred out of town, all shipping stopped.’
- ‘By the late 1890s he had completed the south and north moles, and the new harbour was ready to receive the great P & O liners.’
- ‘We abandoned it to them, demolishing the protective mole that we had begun to build before leaving.’
- ‘He ordered that a huge mole be built across the harbour at La Rochelle which made any Huguenot attempt to land supplies impossible.’
- ‘The north and south moles connect to the shore and the seabed ascends from 30m to nothing along the length of them.’
- ‘The moles were built to protect Lagos' valuable harbor from the fierce action of the waves and to prevent sand from entering the deeply dredged harbor on the ocean surge.’
- ‘To this end, Alexander ordered his engineers to build a mole - a land bridge from the mainland to the island.’
- ‘The gently shelving beaches made evacuation laborious and the major effort was soon switched to the harbour's east mole, from where two-thirds of those rescued were eventually embarked.’
- ‘Smith points out the harbour mole where land is already being reclaimed for a huge new site linking to Newhaven, built around a landscaped park and lake.’
- 1.1 A harbor formed or protected by a mole.
Mid 16th century: from French môle, from Latin moles ‘mass’.
The SI unit of amount of substance, equal to the quantity containing as many elementary units as there are atoms in 0.012 kg of carbon-12.
- ‘The number of moles present in any amount of the solution can be calculated by multiplying the molarity by the volume.’
- ‘One chaotic chemical system that has been well studied is a mixture of equal numbers of moles of carbon monoxide and oxygen with a small amount of molecular hydrogen.’
- ‘For most purposes a substance which has a solubility of less than 0.01 moles per liter is generally regarded as insoluble.’
- ‘In the decomposition, four moles of nitroglycerin decompose into approximately 30 moles of carbon dioxide, water, nitrogen, and oxygen.’
- ‘One mole of any substance weighs a number of grams that is equal to the atomic or molecular weight of that substance.’
Early 20th century: from German Mol, from Molekul, from Latin (see molecule).
An abnormal mass of tissue in the uterus.See also hydatidiform mole
- ‘No fetal tissue was identified in association with the partial mole.’
- ‘Molar pregnancy poses a threat to the pregnant woman when the mole penetrates deep into the uterine wall, which can result in heavy bleeding.’
- ‘After the uterus is emptied, about 20 percent of complete moles and 2 percent of partial moles persist and the remaining abnormal tissue may continue to grow.’
Late Middle English: from French môle, from Latin mola in the sense ‘false conception’.
A highly spiced Mexican sauce made chiefly from chili peppers and chocolate, served with meat.
- ‘This would be a wonderful side dish to some chicken mole, or even an enchilada.’
- ‘The only difference here is that the pastes are full of pineapple, or coconut, or even mole, the Aztec sauce comprising one half chilli, one half chocolate.’
- ‘Here the chicken in the pollo con mole is very tender in its chocolatey, smoky, smouldering mole.’
- ‘Smear chicken pieces generously with mole and bake in a moderate oven, turning once or twice during baking, for about 30 minutes.’
- ‘Oaxaca's traditional food is widely seen as the best in Mexico and local specialties include tamales, fried grasshoppers and a spicy chilli and chocolate sauce known as mole.’
Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl molli ‘sauce, stew’.
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