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See also: pot-hole and pot hole


English Wikipedia has an article on:
A pothole in a road.

Alternative forms[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From dialectal pot (pit, hollow, cavity) +‎ hole. The "cave" senses, attested since at least 1809 (as pot-hole), may be from Middle English pot, potte (a deep hole for a mine, or from peat-digging), of uncertain origin; perhaps related to English pit, pote, or pot. Compare Scots pott, patt (a pit dug in the ground; coalpit).


pothole (plural potholes)

  1. A shallow pit or other edged depression in a road's surface, especially when caused by erosion by weather or traffic.
    • 2022 February 9, “Network News: Prime Minister "blew nearly £1m" on Northern Ireland bridge study”, in RAIL, number 950, page 20:
      Labour's Shadow Transport Secretary Louise Haigh said: "There is a cost-of-living crisis, and the Prime Minister blew nearly £1m of public money on an utterly infeasible vanity project. That's enough to fill 18,000 potholes. This shows the Tories' sheer disrespect for public money."
  2. A pit formed in the bed of a turbulent stream.
    • 2002, May-June, Grand River Conservation Authority (Canada) Newsletter
      The earliest ideas on the creation of potholes are that they were associated with "moulins de glacier" (glacier mills) formed where surface streams on glaciers and ice sheets fall into holes in the ice. Water entering these surficial holes was believed to impact on the bedrock beneath creating a large pothole. The "Moulin Hypothesis", first suggested in 1874, continued to be accepted by many authors until the 1950s. However, commencing in the 1930s, other authors have suggested dissatisfaction with the moulin hypothesis, largely on the grounds that it failed to explain how ice could remain stable long enough for the "giant" potholes to form and why many potholes (like those at Rockwood) were present in large numbers.
  3. (geology) A vertical cave system, often found in limestone.
  4. (archaeology) A pit resulting from unauthorized excavation by treasure-hunters or vandals.
  5. (Australia, mining) A shallow hole dug for the purpose of prospecting for opal or gold.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
  • (pit resulting from unauthorized excavation): pothunter

Etymology 2[edit]

From pot +‎ hole. Attested since at least 1811 (also as pot-hole), possibly continuing Middle English *pothol (attested in the plural, potholys).


pothole (plural potholes)

  1. A hole or recess on the top of a stove into which a pot may be placed.
    • 1984, Stoves and trees: how much wood would a woodstove save if a woodstove could save wood?:
      Stoves with two or more potholes
      The normal single-pot stove in which the pot sits on top, rather than being sunk into the pothole, has a major limitation.

See also[edit]