mole

mole
\ \ English has four distinct words mole. The oldest is ‘brown spot’ [OE]. It is the descendant of Old English māl, which meant broadly ‘discoloured mark’. This developed in Middle English to ‘spot on the skin’, but the specific sense ‘brown mark’ did not emerge until fairly recently. The word goes back to a prehistoric Germanic *mailam, a derivative of a base meaning ‘spot, mark’ which also produced German malenpaint’ and Dutch maalenpaint’ (source of English maulstickstick used as a rest by painters’ [17]). Mole the animal [14] was borrowed from Middle Dutch mol. No one knows for sure where this came from, but its similarity to the now obsolete mouldwarpmole’ [14] (a compound noun whose etymological meaning is ‘earththrower’) suggests that it could represent a truncated version of mouldwarp’s prehistoric Germanic ancestor. The metaphorical application of the word to a ‘traitor working secretly’ has been traced back as far as the 17th century, but its modern currency is due to its use by the British espionage writer John le Carré. Moleharbour wall’ [16] comes via French môle and medieval Greek mólos from Latin mōlēsmass, massive structure’. The diminutive form of this, coined in modern times, is mōlēcula, from which, via French molécule, English gets molecule [18]. Other relatives are demolish and, possibly, molest [14], which comes ultimately from Latin molestustroublesome’, connected by some scholars with mōlēs. And German mol, a convenient shortening of molekulargewichtmolecular weight’, has given English its fourth mole [20], used as the basic unit of measurement for the amount of a substance.
\ \ Cf.MAULSTICK; MOLECULE, MOLEST

Word origins - 2ed. . 2005.

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  • môle — môle …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • Mole — Mole …   Deutsch Wörterbuch

  • Molé — Mole Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour l’article homophone, voir Maul. Mole …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Môle — Mole Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour l’article homophone, voir Maul. Mole …   Wikipédia en Français

  • mole — [ mɔl ] n. f. • 1903; de l all., de Molekül « molécule » ♦ Métrol. Unité de quantité de matière (symb.mol) équivalant à la quantité de matière d un système contenant autant d entités élémentaires qu il y a d atomes dans 0,012 kg de carbone 12 (⇒… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • môle — mole [ mɔl ] n. f. • 1903; de l all., de Molekül « molécule » ♦ Métrol. Unité de quantité de matière (symb.mol) équivalant à la quantité de matière d un système contenant autant d entités élémentaires qu il y a d atomes dans 0,012 kg de carbone… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • môle — 1. (mô l ) s. f. 1°   Terme de médecine. Embryon informe consistant en un simple sac cutané, sans organes distincts, renfermant quelquefois des portions d os, des dents, etc. Ces môles sont quelquefois appelées vraies môles ou môles légitimes.… …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • Mole — Mole, n. [OE. molle, either shortened fr. moldwerp, or from the root of E. mold soil: cf. D. mol, OD. molworp. See {Moldwarp}.] 1. (Zo[ o]l.) Any insectivore of the family {Talpid[ae]}. They have minute eyes and ears, soft fur, and very large and …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mole — des Hafens der Insel Portland Mole a …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • MOLE — MOLE, rodent. The only mole found in Israel is the mole rat (Spalax ehrenbergi), a small mammal belonging to the order Rodentia. It is blind, its rudimentary eyes being covered with a membrane. Inhabiting subterranean burrows which it digs, it… …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • MOLÉ (L. M.) — MOLÉ LOUIS MATTHIEU comte (1781 1855) Héritier de deux illustres familles parlementaires, sa mère étant née Lamoignon, Molé achève son éducation dans l’émigration après l’exécution de son père en 1794. Il rentre en France à la fin du Directoire… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

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