Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to mule: Drug mule
(as) obstinate as a mule
Extremely reluctant or unwilling to change a particular opinion, behavior, or course of action, especially when faced with opposition. My toddler is as obstinate as a mule, and he'll throw a tantrum any time he doesn't get what he wants. You'll never get Rich to change his opinion—he's obstinate as a mule. I wish we could do things differently, but Lynda is obstinate as a mule. As a result, this project may continue on until the end of time.
(as) stubborn as a mule
Extremely reluctant or unwilling to change a particular opinion, behavior, or course of action, especially when faced with opposition. My toddler is as stubborn as a mule, and he'll throw a tantrum any time he doesn't get what he wants. You'll never get Rich to change his opinion—he's stubborn as a mule. I know the boss is stubborn as a mule, but I think we've got enough evidence here to convince him to change course on this project.
40 acres and a mule
1. Something given by the government. The phrase refers to a promise made during the Civil War by Union general William T. Sherman that freed slaves would receive 40 acres of land and a mule. However, after the war that land was given back to its original owners. I'm doing just fine on my own—I don't need 40 acres and a mule from Uncle Sam. A: "If only the government would helps the poorest members of society." B: "Right? 40 acres and a mule would be welcome these days." I don't need food stamps. The government can keep its 40 acres and a mule, as far as I'm concerned.
2. A promise or assurance that proves to be false. I think he's just tempting us with that offer, and it'll turn out to be 40 acres and a mule. We're getting Christmas bonuses this year? Right, along with 40 acres and a mule. Don't believe the boss if he says you'll get your own parking spot—that's like 40 acres and a mule at this point.
be (as) stubborn as a mule
To be very devoted to a particular opinion or course of action, especially when faced with opposition. My toddler is as stubborn as a mule and has a tantrum every night at bedtime because he doesn't want to stop playing. You'll never get Rich to change his opinion—he's stubborn as a mule.
be a mule
1. informal To be extremely stubborn or obstinate. My dad can be a real mule when he makes up his mind about something, even when we can prove that he's wrong.
2. slang To transport contraband, especially illegal drugs, between locations on behalf of a criminal organization. In this poverty-ridden country, some of the most lucrative—and dangerous—work is being a mule.
See also: mule
slang Someone who is paid or forced to transport illegal drugs between locations. Several of the drug mules caught by airport security were victims of human trafficking who had been forced to smuggle drugs across international borders. In this poverty-ridden country, some of the most lucrative—and dangerous—work is being a drug mule.
kick like a mule
1. Literally, to kick with great force, especially when trying to injure. The stallion kicked like a mule as the cowboy tried to clamber on. I started kicking like a mule as the officers began wrestling me to the ground.
2. By extension, to have a very powerful recoil. Usually used in reference to firearms. He didn't think the small revolver would pack much of a punch, but the little six-shooter kicked like a mule. Be careful handling that drill. It'll kick like a mule if it gets jammed.
3. To have a very intense taste or potency. Usually used in reference to alcohol, especially hard liquor. This stuff kicks like a mule, but it takes the edge off the cold as it goes down.
4. To protest loudly or vehemently against something. She kicked like a mule when we tried to put her into that boarding school. I personally didn't mind the decision, but I know a lot of people in the company are kicking like mules about it.
1. informal An extremely stubborn or obstinate person. My dad can be a real mule when he makes up his mind about something, even when we can prove that he's wrong.
2. slang Someone who is paid or forced to transport contraband, especially illegal drugs, between locations. Several of the mules caught by airport security were victims of human trafficking who had been forced to smuggle drugs across international borders. In this poverty-ridden country, some of the most lucrative—and dangerous—work is being a drug mule.
shoe (one's) mule
To steal or misappropriate funds. The phrase refers to blacksmiths who did not shoe one's animal even after accepting payment. I entrusted him with a lot of money, so I'm going to be livid if I find out that he's trying to shoe my mule.
talk the hind leg(s) off a mule
To talk endlessly and exhaustingly. I love my Aunt Lily, but she'd talk the hind legs off a mule if you let her!
work like a beaver
To work very intently, persistently, and assiduously. A reference to beavers' reputation of being extremely industrious. I worked like a beaver the entire summer after high school to earn enough cash to buy my first guitar. The kids are all working like beavers to get the pageant ready in time.
work like a mule
To work very intensely for a long or continuous period of time, especially doing something thankless or menial. The boss had us working like mules to get the project ready on time. I worked like a mule the entire summer after high school to earn enough cash to buy my first guitar. I've been out here working like a mule while you sit inside sipping lemonade. Could you maybe lend me a hand?
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
kick like a muleand kick like a steer
to kick very hard. They say that ostriches will kick like a mule if you bother them. Stay away from the back end of Tom's horse. It will kick like a steer when a stranger comes up.
*stubborn as a muleand *obstinate as a mule
Cliché very stubborn. (*Also: as ~.) I tried to convince Jake to go to the doctor, but he's as stubborn as a mule. For four years, Henry pestered his parents to let him learn the trumpet. They tried to talk him into some other, quieter instrument, but he was stubborn as a mule, and now he has a trumpet.
work like a beaverand work like a mule; work like a horse; work like a slave
Fig. to work very hard. She has an important deadline coming up, so she's been working like a beaver. You need a vacation. You work like a slave in that kitchen. I'm too old to work like a horse. I'd prefer to relax more.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
stubborn as a mule
Extremely obstinate, as in He's stubborn as a mule about wearing a suit and tie. This simile evokes the proverbial stubbornness of mules, whose use as draft animals was once so common that the reputation for obstinacy can hardly be as warranted as the term indicates. [Early 1800s]
work like a beaver
Also, work like a dog or horse or Trojan . Work very energetically and hard, as in She worked like a beaver to clean out all the closets, or I've been working like a dog weeding the garden, or He's very strong and works like a horse. The first of these similes is the oldest, first recorded in 1741; the variants date from the second half of the 1800s. Also see work one's fingers to the bone.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
stubborn as a mule
If someone is as stubborn as a mule, they are determined to do what they want and very unwilling to change their mind. For all his pleasant manner, the Texan was stubborn as a mule, and he didn't like being pushed. Old Greg is also stubborn as a mule. He won't say anything — he'll just carry on doing what he planned. Note: This expression is usually used to show disapproval.
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
work like a beaverwork steadily and industriously. informal
The beaver is referred to here because of the industriousness with which it constructs the dams necessary for its aquatic dwellings. The image is similarly conjured up by the phrase beaver away meaning ‘work hard’.
stubborn as a muleextremely stubborn. informal
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
(as) ˌstubborn as a ˈmule(often disapproving) very determined not to change your opinion or attitude; obstinate: If you tell her what to do, she won’t do it because she’s as stubborn as a mule. Why not just suggest it to her?
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017
n. someone who delivers or smuggles drugs for a drug dealer. (Drugs.) The jerks use a twelve-year-old kid for a mule!
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.
stubborn as a mule
Singularly obstinate. No one knows why mules in particular have been singled out for this quality, but they have, for centuries. “Contrary” and “obstinate” are other adjectives used in the simile, which became current in the early 1800s and remains so. The same is meant by the adjective mulish.
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
Forty acres and a mule
A a government handout; a broken promise. As Union general William T. Sherman marched through Georgia and other parts of the confederacy during the Civil War, he promised freed slaves the gift of forty acres of South Carolina and Georgia farmland and an army mule with which to work the soil. Following the war, however, President Johnson rescinded Sherman's order, and the appropriated land was restored to its owners. While most citizens adopted the phrase as a metaphor for either any form of government handout (or a trifling salary or bonus from their employer), African-Americans who remembered the expression's history used it as a rueful reminder of a offer that was reneged upon.
Endangered Phrases by Steven D. Price Copyright © 2011 by Steven D. Price