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
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘A popular method is to have mules carry different gun parts to their destination.’
    • ‘Silene was waiting for me as I unloaded the mule and dragged the sacks of flour into the kitchen.’
    • ‘The world's first cloned mule was born on May 4, 2003.’
    • ‘He entered the cocoa industry but after its decline started his own transport business with mule carts.’
    • ‘Instead we often get stuck riding a reliable mule up a rough trail.’
    • ‘Now, scientists at the University of Idaho have successfully cloned a mule.’
    • ‘But because mules are sterile, breeding new champions is difficult.’
    • ‘At the edge of her mind, she heard a mule braying loudly, in fear.’
    • ‘The mules were unloaded and swam across, following the bell mare.’
    • ‘The shock came yesterday, after one of the mules kicked another.’
    • ‘It is like being kicked by a mule in the chest.’
    • ‘My mother dumped me like an old mule to be left for death.’
    • ‘They hopped off their horses, not bothering to unload the mules.’
    • ‘There was a farmer who wanted to get rid of this old mule.’
    • ‘Christopher grabbed a coffee cup out of the pack that the mule was carrying.’
    • ‘Being the offspring of a male donkey and a mare, mules are sterile.’
    • ‘The Israelites used various beasts of burden - mules, horses, camels and oxen.’
    • ‘As hybrids, mules are almost always sterile.’
    1. 1.1 A person compared to a mule, especially in being stubborn or obstinate.
      • ‘An angry David Whitechapel was a stubborn mule, which refused to budge.’
      • ‘I don't think Franzen is particularly gifted but he is a mule.’
      • ‘We're two stubborn old mules who need to have their own way.’
      • ‘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.’
    2. 1.2informal A courier for illegal drugs.
      • ‘She found a quicker way to make money: being a drug mule.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Police said he had been contracting drug mules to swallow and smuggle cocaine into Europe.’
      • ‘This is an indication that international drugs gangs are increasingly using mules to smuggle the narcotic into the country.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I have come to the conclusion that my landlord moonlights as a mule for drug dealers.’
      • ‘And so you can accept that becoming a drugs mule is the only career opportunity that might offer financial salvation.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Dealers and runners and mules and nine-year-old lookouts would be off street corners, and out of the line of fire.’
      • ‘The mules wrap the cocaine in condoms and swallow them.’
      • ‘She could have been a heroin mule or a gun smuggler for all anyone knew.’
      • ‘‘Am I unwittingly being used as a drugs mule by some major Colombian Mr Big?’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Lloyd, the manager, is now a drug mule.’
      • ‘A black poster at Kingston's airport is blunt: ‘Drug mules beware: It's a plane ticket to hell.’’
      • ‘The film doesn't gloss over the violent nature of the drugs industry, but its sympathetic portrait of the mules is quietly provocative.’
      • ‘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.’
      contrabandist, runner, courier, bootlegger
      View synonyms
  • 2A hybrid plant or animal, especially a sterile one.

    • ‘Some of the considerable biodiversity of corals may come from underwater versions of mules, say researchers.’
    • ‘Finch mules have always been more difficult to breed than the canaries or finches themselves, but some were less difficult than others.’
    • ‘A total of 989 female ducks were studied over three generations, as well as 4025 purebred offspring and 4125 male mule offspring.’
    1. 2.1 Any of several standard crossbred 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 (1753–1827) in 1779.

    • ‘Crompton's invention of the spinning mule in 1779 marked a major step forward in the Industrial Revolution.’
    • ‘Past inventors have, of course, included Samuel Crompton of spinning mule fame.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Morris said: ‘It was interesting to note that we planted a fir tree, because Samuel Crompton's mule was made from the same wood.’’
    • ‘Items which belonged to Crompton can be seen in the Hall along with part of a replica spinning mule.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His near contemporary, the shy and upright Samuel Crompton invented the spinning mule that allowed Britain to corner the market in fine-spun cottons.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Other activities will include Victorian toys to play with and demonstrations of the mill's spinning mules, waterwheel and the power loom.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The room in which the spinning mule was invented is still arranged as it may have looked in Samuel's time.’
  • 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

/mjul//myo͞ol/

Main definitions of mule in English

: mule1mule2

mule2

noun

  • A slipper or light shoe without a back.

    • ‘Try a ballerina flat, or an open mule with a smartly shaped heel.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Avoid shallow styles like most sandals and mules and don't go barefoot (neither of these options supports your foot).’
    • ‘Throwbacks to a swell fashion trend of yesteryear, they spice up any pair of shoes, from ballet flats to mules or slinky stilettos.’
    • ‘This spring, watch out for flat mules as a big trend.’
    • ‘Dress code: ‘Sporty geek chic’ for guys and ‘chichi, with mules and push-up bras’ for dolls.’
    • ‘Right now, she's into mules, but I'll take any of her slingbacks and high-heeled sandals.’
    • ‘She set down her bag and kicked off her tan suede mules as she walked back to her bedroom.’
    • ‘I prefer to go barefoot, but I have trainers, high heeled mules, loafers and flipflops.’
    • ‘Instead, Rasband suggests finding a decent pair of microfiber or leather mules.’
    • ‘A bare foot is what grips your foot to the shoe and keeps the mules from being treacherous.’
    • ‘Soft or hard sole slippers, moccasins, slip-ons or mules - these are just a few of the appealing styles you can find.’
    • ‘Avoid skinny heels, even if they're low, and avoid mules or slingbacks until you're more comfortable.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I also don't think I can continue to wear my loafer mules for much longer.’
    • ‘The pointy-toed trend is prevalent in practically every style from slingbacks and mules to flats, boots and everything in between.’
    • ‘Munro shoes also designed the Duet sandal, a sophisticated shoe, that is a hybrid of a mule and sandal.’
    • ‘She chose a pair of jeans instead of a summery skirt, a T-shirt over a singlet top, and mules over sandals.’
    • ‘If you are looking for something more formal or trendy, go with mules, sleek leathers and simple designs and soles.’
    • ‘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.’
    moccasin, house shoe
    pump
    View synonyms

Origin

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

Pronunciation

mule

/mjul//myo͞ol/