DEFINITION of 'Dry Hole'

A business venture that ends up being a loss. The buzz word "dry hole" was originally used in oil exploration to describe a well where no significant reserves of oil were found. This term is now often used to describe any fruitless commercial initiative.

BREAKING DOWN 'Dry Hole'

Newer businesses often run at a net loss for the first few years (while acquiring one-time expenses such as equipment and buildings) before becoming profitable; however, these are not usually referred to as dry holes. A dry hole is typically thought to never be able to produce a profit.

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