a deep hole; pit.
a hole formed in pavement, as by excessive use or by extremes of weather.
a more or less cylindrical hole formed in rock by the grinding action of the detrital material in eddying water.
a cave opening vertically from the ground surface.

1820–30; pot1 + hole

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World English Dictionary
pothole (ˈpɒtˌhəʊl)
1.  geography
 a.  See also sinkhole a deep hole in limestone areas resulting from action by running water
 b.  a circular hole in the bed of a river produced by abrasion
2.  a deep hole, esp one produced in a road surface by wear or weathering

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

also pot-hole, 1826, originally a geological feature in glaciers and gravel beds, from M.E. pot in sense of "a deep hole for a mine, or from peat-digging" (late 14c., sense now generally obsolete, but preserved in Scotland and northern England dialect); perhaps ultimately related to
pot (1) on notion of "deep, cylindrical shape." Applied to holes in a road from 1909.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
The cost difference is going to have to be enormous before they'll take a chance on illiterate workers and pothole-filled streets.
As often happens, the road suddenly transforms from a well-paved street to a pothole-ridden nightmare.
Whenever a pothole emerges, it is seen as an opportunity to create a garden.
One driver reported the axle snapped after hitting a pothole.
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