1 [myool]
the sterile offspring of a female horse and a male donkey, valued as a work animal, having strong muscles, a body shaped like a horse, and donkeylike long ears, small feet, and sure-footedness. Compare hinny1.
any hybrid between the donkey and the horse.
Informal. a very stubborn person.
Botany. any sterile hybrid.
Slang. a person paid to carry or transport contraband, especially drugs, for a smuggler.
a small locomotive used for pulling rail cars, as in a coal yard or on an industrial site, or for towing, as of ships through canal locks.
Also called spinning mule. a machine for spinning cotton or other fibers into yarn and winding the yarn on spindles.
Nautical. a large triangular staysail set between two masts and having its clew set well aft.
Numismatics. a hybrid coin having the obverse of one issue and the reverse of the succeeding issue, or vice versa.
Biology. a hybrid, especially one between the canary and some other finch.

before 1000; Middle English < Old French < Latin mūla mule (feminine); replacing Old English mūl < Latin mūlus (masculine) Unabridged


2 [myool]
a lounging slipper that covers the toes and instep or only the instep.
a woman's shoe resembling this.

1350–1400; Middle English: sore spot on the heel, chilblain, perhaps < Middle Dutch mūle Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
mule1 (mjuːl)
1.  Compare hinny the sterile offspring of a male donkey and a female horse, used as a beast of burden
2.  any hybrid animal: a mule canary
3.  Also called: spinning mule a machine invented by Samuel Crompton that spins cotton into yarn and winds the yarn on spindles
4.  informal an obstinate or stubborn person
5.  slang a person who is paid to transport illegal drugs for a dealer
[C13: from Old French mul, from Latin mūlus ass, mule]

mule2 (mjuːl)
a backless shoe or slipper
[C16: from Old French from Latin mulleus a magistrate's shoe]

mules (mjuːlz)
(Austral) (tr) to perform the Mules operation on (a sheep)

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"offspring of donkey and horse," O.E. mul, O.Fr. mul (fem. mule), both from L. mulus (fem. mula) "a mule," probably from a pre-Latin Mediterranean language.
"The mule combines the strength of the horse with the endurance and surefootedness of the ass, and is extensively bred for certain employments for which it is more suited than either; it is ordinarily incapable of procreation. With no good grounds, the mule is a proverbial type of obstinacy." [OED]
Properly, the offspring of a he-ass and a mare; that of a she-ass and a stallion is technically a hinny. Used allusively of hybrids and things of mixed nature. As a type of spinning machine, attested from 1797. Meaning "stubborn person" is from 1848; that of "narcotics smuggler or courier" first attested 1935. O.Fr. mul was replaced in Fr. by dim. form mulet, hence muleteer "mule driver" (1538), from Fr. muletier.

"loose slipper," 1560s, from M.Fr., from L. mulleus calceus "red high-soled shoe," worn by Roman patricians, from mullus "red" (see mullet). Related: Mules.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Bible Dictionary

Mule definition

(Heb. pered), so called from the quick step of the animal or its power of carrying loads. It is not probable that the Hebrews bred mules, as this was strictly forbidden in the law (Lev. 19:19), although their use was not forbidden. We find them in common use even by kings and nobles (2 Sam. 18:9; 1 Kings 1:33; 2 Kings 5:17; Ps. 32:9). They are not mentioned, however, till the time of David, for the word rendered "mules" (R.V. correctly, "hot springs") in Gen. 36:24 (yemim) properly denotes the warm springs of Callirhoe, on the eastern shore of the Dead Sea. In David's reign they became very common (2 Sam. 13:29; 1 Kings 10:25). Mules are not mentioned in the New Testament. Perhaps they had by that time ceased to be used in Palestine.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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Example sentences
They still had to bring in mules, but they felt ok about it.
In a large pack-train much time and labor are lost every morning collecting the
  mules which strayed while grazing.
Mules, motorcycles, and roaring pickup trucks compete for space on the gutted
All those mules with their forelegs broken pushed over into the shallow water.
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