# Whole vs. Hole: What's the Difference?

Edited by Harlon Moss || By Janet White || Updated on October 7, 2023
Whole refers to all of something or something that is complete or unbroken, while a hole is an opening or a hollow space in something.

## Key Differences

Whole and hole are two English words that sound similar but have entirely different meanings and uses. The word "whole" is primarily used as an adjective and signifies something that is complete, unbroken, or entire, relating to all elements or aspects of something. On the contrary, "hole," typically used as a noun, signifies an opening, gap, or a hollowed place in something, which can occur naturally or be created intentionally.
In the context of quantity or structure, "whole" conveys the sense of fullness or entirety. For instance, a whole pie refers to a pie that is intact, and all its pieces are together. In contrast, "hole" denotes a void or emptiness in a structure. A hole in a piece of fabric implies a break or interruption in the fabric’s continuity, leading to an opening.
Grammatically, the word "whole" can function as a noun or an adjective, and its usage is mostly metaphorical or quantitative. For instance, one might say that a whole community came together to celebrate, indicating the entirety of the community. The word "hole," predominantly acting as a noun, is more literal, used to describe a physical or perceivable opening or gap, as in a hole in the wall.
Whole is indicative of unity and completeness, emphasizing the sum of all parts being together without any missing or broken elements. It denotes unbroken condition and can be used in various contexts such as mathematics, where a whole number is a number without fractions. Hole, however, is the representation of emptiness or absence within a solid object, and its meaning is more consistent across different contexts, often implying a deficiency or a missing part.
Whole and hole, despite their phonetic similarity, stand in contrast both in meaning and grammatical function, depicting completeness and emptiness respectively. Their careful usage is crucial to conveying precise meaning, considering the wide difference in their definitions, and avoiding any possible confusion due to their similar pronunciation.

## Comparison Chart

Noun

### Meaning

Complete, entire, unbroken, or all of something.
An opening, gap, or hollowed place in something.

### Grammatical Usage

Quantitative or metaphorical, can modify nouns.
Literal, describes physical or perceivable openings.

### Contextual Emphasis

Unity and completeness.
Emptiness or absence within a solid object.

### Consistency

Varied usage in different contexts.
More consistent meaning across different contexts.

## Whole and Hole Definitions

#### Whole

Entire or complete in all its parts.
She spent the whole day reading a novel.

#### Hole

A flaw or weak point.
We discovered a hole in our strategy.

#### Whole

All of; entire.
The whole town was affected by the power outage.

#### Hole

A place of confinement or oblivion.
His research got lost in a bureaucratic hole.

#### Whole

Free from impairment or injury; sound.
Keep the eggs whole until you are ready to cook them.

#### Hole

A hollowed place in something solid; a cavity or pit
Dug a hole in the ground with a shovel.

#### Whole

Not divided or broken; intact.
He ate the whole apple, including the core.

#### Hole

An opening or perforation
A hole in the clouds.
Had a hole in the elbow of my sweater.

#### Whole

Containing all components; complete
The whole series of novels.

#### Hole

(Sports) An opening in a defensive formation, such as the area of a baseball infield between two adjacent fielders.

#### Whole

Not divided or disjoined; in one unit
A whole loaf.

#### Hole

A fault or flaw
There are holes in your argument.

#### Whole

Constituting the full amount, extent, or duration
The baby cried the whole trip home.

#### Hole

A deep place in a body of water.

#### Whole

Not wounded, injured, or impaired; sound or unhurt
Many escaped the fire frightened but whole.

#### Hole

An animal's hollowed-out habitation, such as a burrow.

#### Whole

Having been restored; healed
After the treatment he felt whole.

#### Hole

An ugly, squalid, or depressing dwelling.

#### Whole

Having the same parents
A whole sister.

#### Hole

A deep or isolated place of confinement; a dungeon.

#### Whole

A number, group, set, or thing lacking no part or element; a complete thing.

#### Hole

An awkward situation; a predicament.

#### Whole

An entity or system made up of interrelated parts
The value of the whole was greater than the sum of its parts.

#### Hole

The small pit lined with a cup into which a golf ball must be hit.

#### Whole

Entirely; wholly
A whole new idea.

#### Hole

One of the divisions of a golf course, from tee to cup.

#### Whole

Entire, undivided.
I ate a whole fish.

#### Hole

(Physics) A vacant position in an atom left by the absence of a valence electron, especially a position in a semiconductor that acts as a carrier of positive electric charge. Also called electron hole.

#### Whole

Used as an intensifier.
I brought a whole lot of balloons for the party.
She ate a whole bunch of french fries.

#### Hole

To put a hole in.

#### Whole

Sound, uninjured, healthy.
He is of whole mind, but the same cannot be said about his physical state.

#### Hole

To put or propel into a hole.

#### Whole

(of food) From which none of its constituents has been removed.
Whole wheat; whole milk

#### Hole

To make a hole in something.

#### Whole

(mining) As yet unworked.

#### Hole

A hollow place or cavity; an excavation; a pit; a dent; a depression; a fissure.
I made a blind hole in the wall for a peg.
I dug a hole and planted a tree in it.

#### Whole

(colloquial) In entirety; entirely; wholly.
I ate a fish whole!

#### Hole

An opening that goes all the way through a solid body, a fabric, etc.; a perforation; a rent.
There’s a hole in my shoe.
Her stocking has a hole in it.

#### Whole

Something complete, without any parts missing.
This variety of fascinating details didn't fall together into an enjoyable, coherent whole.

An entirety.

#### Hole

(golf) A subsurface standard-size hole, also called cup, hitting the ball into which is the object of play. Each hole, of which there are usually eighteen as the standard on a full course, is located on a prepared surface, called the green, of a particular type grass.

#### Whole

Containing the total amount, number, etc.; comprising all the parts; free from deficiency; all; total; entire; as, the whole earth; the whole solar system; the whole army; the whole nation.
The whole race of mankind.

#### Hole

(golf) The part of a game in which a player attempts to hit the ball into one of the holes.
I played 18 holes yesterday.
The second hole today cost me three strokes over par.

#### Whole

Complete; entire; not defective or imperfect; not broken or fractured; unimpaired; uninjured; integral; as, a whole orange; the egg is whole; the vessel is whole.
My life is yet whole in me.

#### Hole

(baseball) The rear portion of the defensive team between the shortstop and the third baseman.
The shortstop ranged deep into the hole to make the stop.

#### Whole

Possessing, or being in a state of, heath and soundness; healthy; sound; well.
[She] findeth there her friends hole and sound.
They that be whole need not a physician.
When Sir Lancelot's deadly hurt was whole.
All the whole army stood agazed on him.
One entire and perfect chrysolite.
Lest total darkness should by night regainHer old possession, and extinguish life.
So absolute she seems,And in herself complete.

#### Hole

(chess) A square on the board, with some positional significance, that a player does not, and cannot in future, control with a friendly pawn.

#### Whole

The entire thing; the entire assemblage of parts; totality; all of a thing, without defect or exception; a thing complete in itself.
"This not the whole of life to live,Nor all of death to die.

#### Hole

(stud poker) A card (also called a hole card) dealt face down thus unknown to all but its holder; the status in which such a card is.

#### Whole

A regular combination of parts; a system.
Parts answering parts shall slide into a whole.

#### Hole

In the game of fives, part of the floor of the court between the step and the pepperbox.

#### Whole

All of something including all its component elements or parts;
Europe considered as a whole
The whole of American literature

#### Hole

An excavation pit or trench.

#### Whole

An assemblage of parts that is regarded as a single entity;
How big is that part compared to the whole?
The team is a unit

#### Hole

(figuratively) A weakness; a flaw or ambiguity.
I have found a hole in your argument.

#### Whole

Including all components without exception; being one unit or constituting the full amount or extent or duration; complete;
Gave his whole attention
A whole wardrobe for the tropics
The whole hog
A whole week
The baby cried the whole trip home

#### Hole

(informal) A container or receptacle.
Car hole;
Brain hole

#### Whole

(of siblings) having the same parents;
Whole brothers and sisters

#### Hole

(physics) In semiconductors, a lack of an electron in an occupied band behaving like a positively charged particle.

#### Whole

Exhibiting or restored to vigorous good health;
Hale and hearty
Whole in mind and body
A whole person again

#### Hole

(computing) A security vulnerability in software which can be taken advantage of by an exploit.

#### Whole

To a complete degree or to the full or entire extent (`whole' is often used informally for `wholly');
He was wholly convinced
Entirely satisfied with the meal
It was completely different from what we expected
Was completely at fault
A totally new situation
The directions were all wrong
It was not altogether her fault
An altogether new approach
A whole new idea

#### Hole

An orifice, in particular the anus. When used with shut it always refers to the mouth.

#### Whole

Constituting the full amount, extent, or duration.
The lecture took a whole hour.

#### Hole

Sex, or a sex partner.
Are you going out to get your hole tonight?

#### Hole

Solitary confinement, a high-security prison cell often used as punishment.

#### Hole

(slang) An undesirable place to live or visit.
His apartment is a hole!

#### Hole

(figurative) Difficulty, in particular, debt.
If you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.

#### Hole

(graph theory) A chordless cycle in a graph.

#### Hole

A passing loop; a siding provided for trains traveling in opposite directions on a single-track line to pass each other.
We’re supposed to take the hole at Cronk and wait for the Limited to pass.

#### Hole

(transitive) To make holes in (an object or surface).
Shrapnel holed the ship's hull.

#### Hole

To destroy.
She completely holed the argument.

#### Hole

(intransitive) To go into a hole.

#### Hole

(transitive) To drive into a hole, as an animal, or a billiard ball or golf ball.
Woods holed a standard three foot putt

#### Hole

(transitive) To cut, dig, or bore a hole or holes in.
To hole a post for the insertion of rails or bars

Whole.

#### Hole

A hollow place or cavity; an excavation; a pit; an opening in or through a solid body, a fabric, etc.; a perforation; a rent; a fissure.
The holes where eyes should be.
The blind wallsWere full of chinks and holes.
The priest took a chest, and bored a hole in the lid.

#### Hole

An excavation in the ground, made by an animal to live in, or a natural cavity inhabited by an animal; hence, a low, narrow, or dark lodging or place; a mean habitation.
The foxes have holes, . . . but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

#### Hole

A small cavity used in some games, usually one into which a marble or ball is to be played or driven; hence, a score made by playing a marble or ball into such a hole, as in golf.

#### Hole

To cut, dig, or bore a hole or holes in; as, to hole a post for the insertion of rails or bars.

#### Hole

To drive into a hole, as an animal, or a billiard ball.

#### Hole

To go or get into a hole.

#### Hole

An opening into or through something

#### Hole

An opening deliberately made in or through something

#### Hole

One playing period (from tee to green) on a golf course;
He played 18 holes

#### Hole

An unoccupied space

#### Hole

A depression hollowed out of solid matter

#### Hole

A fault;
He shot holes in my argument

#### Hole

Informal terms for a difficult situation;
He got into a terrible fix
He made a muddle of his marriage

#### Hole

Informal terms for the mouth

#### Hole

Hit the ball into the hole

Make holes in

#### Hole

An opening through something; a hollow place.
He dug a hole in the ground.

#### Hole

An unoccupied space in a substance.
There is a hole in my sock.

#### Hole

A cavity or depression.
Golfers aim to put the ball in the hole.

## FAQs

#### Is a hole an opening or gap in something?

Yes, a hole is an opening, gap, or hollowed place in something.

#### Is the usage of whole often quantitative or metaphorical?

Yes, whole is often used in a quantitative or metaphorical sense.

#### Does whole refer to something complete?

Yes, whole refers to something that is complete or entire.

#### Can hole be used metaphorically to describe a weak point?

Yes, hole can be used metaphorically to describe a flaw or weak point.

#### Does a hole imply a deficiency or absence in an object?

Yes, a hole implies a deficiency or a missing part in an object.

#### Does the whole emphasize the unbroken condition?

Yes, whole emphasizes an unbroken, undivided, and intact condition.

#### Can a hole be a point of vulnerability?

Yes, metaphorically, a hole can represent a point of vulnerability or deficiency.

#### Can whole be used to depict unity and completeness?

Yes, whole depicts unity, completeness, and the sum of all parts being together.

#### Does the meaning of hole remain consistent across contexts?

Generally, the meaning of hole remains more consistent, usually denoting an emptiness or opening.

#### Can whole be used as a noun?

Yes, whole can function as both a noun and an adjective.

#### Can a hole exist naturally or be man-made?

Yes, a hole can either be a natural occurrence or be created intentionally.

#### Is hole predominantly a noun?

Yes, hole predominantly acts as a noun in grammatical structures.

#### Is whole related to wholesomeness and health?

Yes, whole can relate to wholesomeness and soundness in health contexts.

#### Can the usage of whole vary in different mathematical contexts?

Yes, in mathematics, whole has varied usage, like representing whole numbers.

#### Can whole refer to the full amount or duration of something?

Yes, whole can refer to the full amount, extent, or duration of something.