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.
mouldwarp, mouldywarpView synonyms
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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
- ‘He is told that there is a mole within his agency assisting with the plot.’
- ‘But without effective compartmentation, a single, well-placed mole can trigger an intelligence leak of catastrophic proportions.’
- ‘Unbeknownst to John J., he has been set up by a mole in the operation.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘What about a mole being a double agent who establishes a cover long before beginning espionage?’
- ‘He sends in his best officer, Jin, as a mole to infiltrate the group.’
- ‘He started an internal witchhunt that targeted exactly the wrong people, leaving KGB moles undisturbed.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘There may have been a mole planted by the security services inside the terror cells in the country.’
- ‘For more than one year they had sat on information regarding the alleged mole, compromising security, he said.’
- ‘I don't know how they found out about her… but my gut instinct tells me that there is a mole in the CIA.’
- ‘Intelligence officials believe he was the mole.’
- ‘Things get dangerous when the recruit is given the special assignment of rooting out a suspected mole that has infiltrated the Agency.’
- ‘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.’’
- ‘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 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.’
- ‘The others that he talked to are incredulous at the thought of a mole because of their excellent anti-espionage program.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The FBI's polygraph program has similarly failed to yield any moles.’
- ‘That search for the supposed mole within CIA severely damaged the careers of some CIA officers.’
- 2.1 Someone within an organization who anonymously betrays confidential information.
- ‘One of Asymmetrical Information's moles forwards this item from Businessweek.’
- ‘Not being originally of the community, the mole cannot really betray.’
- ‘For £50,000 we will finger moles within your organisation.’
- ‘After all, if the mole was leaking information to hit men, then that was a potential risk to Harmony's safety, wasn't it?’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘We knew that the opposition had a mole in our organization, but no one ever suspected that Albert was involved.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘There must be a few liberal moles toiling anonymously inside the conservative news channel who can smuggle these things to the outside world, right?’
- ‘I've good reason to believe there's a mole in our organization.’
- ‘A councillor who owed £640 in rent arrears has called for the town hall mole who leaked information to the newspaper to be sacked.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘When we were in California last week, a mole told us that nothing upsets marketers more than revealing the real names of computer chips.’
- ‘He is a dastardly turncoat Democratic mole, who betrayed the good people of this country for purely political reasons.’
- ‘But he didn't just quit, instead he became a mole at the heart of the movement, passing information to the anti-Fascist media.’
- ‘Campaigners against the arms trade have accused their own chief paid organiser of being a mole secretly working on behalf of their opponents.’
- ‘It turned out that a mole within texted out the decision while the committee was still locked in discussion.’
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
- ‘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.’
- ‘Once you are suspicious of changes in a coloured skin mole, don't delay in reporting the condition for an expert opinion.’
- ‘The signs of malignant change in a mole are very important to know.’
- ‘Coral, a pretty woman with olive-tan skin dotted with small moles and full plum lips, was dating a man seven years her senior.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘Because a shaved mole's ‘roots’ are left in the skin, the mole may grow back.’
- ‘I have quite a few moles naturally on my skin and I should have listened to him, but I didn't.’
- ‘The border of the mole should be smooth, with a clear distinction between skin and the mole.’
- ‘Her knuckles were full of tiny fissures and wrinkles, the backs covered with freckles, moles and scars.’
- ‘She added: ‘We are negotiating with a retailer so we can offer free screening clinics for moles in stores across the country.’’
- ‘Melanoma first appears as a mole or skin discoloration.’
- ‘He had pale, clear skin with nary a blemish, aside from a tiny mole on the corner of his full lower lip.’
- ‘‘Well, you have a mole right there,’ Caleb informed him, pointing to the little freckle.’
- ‘People in Bradford are being urged to get their moles checked at a skin cancer open day.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The first signs appear through existing markings on the skin, such as moles or freckles, which may become larger, redder or rougher.’
- ‘The only blemish is a small mole just under his left eye, but somehow that little imperfection makes him so much better looking.’
- ‘He was unshaven with a mole on his right temple and was wearing a brown-coloured shirt.’
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
- ‘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.’
- ‘He ordered that a huge mole be built across the harbour at La Rochelle which made any Huguenot attempt to land supplies impossible.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘We abandoned it to them, demolishing the protective mole that we had begun to build before leaving.’
- ‘To this end, Alexander ordered his engineers to build a mole - a land bridge from the mainland to the island.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘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.’
- 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.
- ‘One mole of any substance weighs a number of grams that is equal to the atomic or molecular weight of that substance.’
- ‘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.’
- ‘The number of moles present in any amount of the solution can be calculated by multiplying the molarity by the volume.’
- ‘In the decomposition, four moles of nitroglycerin decompose into approximately 30 moles of carbon dioxide, water, nitrogen, and oxygen.’
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.
- ‘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.’
- ‘This would be a wonderful side dish to some chicken mole, or even an enchilada.’
- ‘Here the chicken in the pollo con mole is very tender in its chocolatey, smoky, smouldering mole.’
- ‘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.’
Mexican Spanish, from Nahuatl molli ‘sauce, stew’.
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