What are the small holes in the surface of a road called? In English, a hole in the surface of a road is usually called a pothole. This is a strange name, isn’t it? Nobody really knows why they are called potholes, but it might be because of one these reasons.

  1. It looks like the shape of a pot or a bowl. This seems sensible, but it probably isn’t the real reason.

  2. The word was originally used to describe holes cut into ice. These holes were used by people fishing. Perhaps it is because they look similar that holes in roads have been called potholes. This could be the best explanation.

  3. It might be because of old English. A pot used to mean a pit. A pit is a large hole in the ground. This is another possible reason.

  4. An interesting one is that hundreds of years ago people used to dig holes in roads to make pots to eat from. This is probably not true because roads were then made out of stones and sand. These would not be very good for making pots.