cat hole

Any Boy Scout, primitive camper, or soldier can tell you about having to dig a cat hole (a slit trench, a latrine hole). But the various areas in the eastern United States with the name Cathole appended (Cathole Mountain, Cathole Pass, Cathole Landing, Cathole Cave, and Cathole, South Carolina) are probably not celebrating the art of happy outdoor defecation. In southern Michigan, a cathole is a euphemism for a shallow bog less than an acre in size, usually left behind by a glacier. Geologist Rick Williams identifies cathole as a drilling term used among miners for a tight hole in which dynamite is to be placed. A tight hole is much closer to the root of cathole, since the word is, well, an anal allusion. It originated in coal mines in Lancashire, England. (Most Cathole townships are in mining country, and most cathole landscape features are either caves or tightly circumscribed angosturas, or narrows.) Harry Tootles, in his Mining Dictionary, offers this piquant definition: “Cat-arse or Cat-hole pit. Colloquial euphemism for a drift mine or an ‘adit,’ known in Lancashire as a ‘sough.’ Tantamount to peering into the upper rear orifice of a cat. ‘It was dark, mucky, and it stinks.’"

Luis Alberto Urrea