drug 'mule'

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today I was reading the news paper and I came across an article who's title is:
''Probe call as doctors save drug 'mule' ''

Upon reading the article I understood that they're talking about a drugs smuggler that smuggled pills in his stomach wrapped up in plastic bags and he was caught and they saved his life after one of the pills bursted in his stomach causing him to black out and consequentally taken to hospital and right now investigations are going on regarding his case.
What I didn't understand is the word ''mule''.
I looked it up in google but I couldn't see any relevance between it and the definitions that i could come up with out of my google research.
So can anyone explain or atleast provide me with a proper definition of the word mule as it is deemed in the above sentence.
Thank's in advance
  • Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    Not all dictionaries have the definition used here, but Merriam-Webster (online) does:

    4 slang : a person who smuggles or delivers illicit substances (as drugs)

    I would say it comes from mule as in a pack animal, as used to carry goods (the OED includes the drug courier definition under the headword "mule" meaning the animal).


    Senior Member
    Thanks a lot.
    What intrigues me though is, How could they use slangs in an official news paper :S.
    Anyways thanks again.
    Did the headline show the word mule in quotation marks, as you wrote in your example? If so, the writer recognized the informal or slang nature of the word and was using it as headlinese--it's shorter than courier or drug courier. I expect that if the word is used later in the article, it is defined after it is mentioned.

    Most modern newspapers will use slang or other informal English on occasion, even in the body of an article, because they risk being considered stuffy if they never do so.
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