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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) a mole

mole emerging from its hole

If there’s one subject that crops up fairly regularly on the HH Twitter feed, it’s animal nicknames. You might have spotted this tweet about penguins—and the explanation behind it—over on Twitter the other day:

But it’s not just the penguins that have it bad:

So this week over on the HH YouTube series, we’re looking at the origins and meanings behind 10 Old Animal Nicknames:

One name that didn’t make the final cut here was mouldwarp, an old English word for a mole. The “mould” of mouldwarp has nothing to do with being mouldy (which is actually an entirely unrelated word), but is instead an ancient English word for loose earth or turned-over soil. Its etymological cousins are words like mull, meaning “ashes” or “crumbling dust”, and mool, the soil used to fill graves.

The “warp” of mouldwarp is a verb, meaning “to toss through the air”, or “to sprinkle”. You can also (should you ever need to) warp a door, which means to throw it open quickly; warp your clothes, which means to remove them equally quickly; and warp someone, which means to suddenly drop them in some kind of situation or scenario—so you could warp them into prison, into bankruptcy, or into peril. Presumably after you’ve closed the door and put your clothes on again, of course.

Put together, that means that mouldwarp literally means “earth-thrower”. Which seems like a perfectly reasonable name for a mole—and a much nicer one than this:


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