the pits

the pits


  1. a naturally formed or excavated hole or cavity in the ground: pits caused by erosion; clay pits.
  2. a covered or concealed excavation in the ground, serving as a trap.
  3. Mining.
    1. an excavation made in exploring for or removing a mineral deposit, as by open-cut methods.
    2. the shaft of a coal mine.
    3. the mine itself.
  4. the abode of evil spirits and lost souls; hell: an evil inspiration from the pit.
  5. the pits, Slang. an extremely unpleasant, boring, or depressing place, condition, person, etc.; the absolute worst: When you’re alone, Christmas is the pits.
  6. a hollow or indentation in a surface: glass flawed by pits.
  7. a natural hollow or depression in the body: the pit of the back.
  8. pits, Informal. the armpits: up to my pits in work.
  9. a small, depressed scar, as one of those left on the skin after smallpox or chicken pox.
  10. an enclosure, usually below the level of the spectators, as for staging fights between dogs, cocks, or, formerly, bears.
  11. (in a commodity exchange) a part of the floor of the exchange where trading in a particular commodity takes place: the corn pit.
  12. Architecture.
    1. all that part of the main floor of a theater behind the musicians.
    2. British.the main floor of a theater behind the stalls.
    3. orchestra(def 2a).
  13. (in a hoistway) a space below the level of the lowest floor served.
  14. Auto Racing. an area at the side of a track, for servicing and refueling the cars.
  15. Bowling. the sunken area of a bowling alley behind the pins, for the placement or recovery of pins that have been knocked down.
  16. Track. the area forward of the takeoff point in a jumping event, as the broad jump or pole vault, that is filled with sawdust or soft earth to lessen the force of the jumper’s landing.
  17. the area or room of a casino containing gambling tables.

verb (used with object), pit·ted, pit·ting.

  1. to mark or indent with pits or depressions: ground pitted by erosion.
  2. to scar with pockmarks: His forehead was pitted by chicken pox.
  3. to place or bury in a pit, as for storage.
  4. to set in opposition or combat, as one against another.
  5. to put (animals) in a pit or enclosure for fighting.

verb (used without object), pit·ted, pit·ting.

  1. to become marked with pits or depressions.
  2. (of body tissue) to retain temporarily a mark of pressure, as by a finger, instrument, etc.


  1. a large, usually deep opening in the ground
    1. a mine or excavation with a shaft, esp for coal
    2. the shaft in a mine
    3. (as modifier)pit pony; pit prop
  2. a concealed danger or difficulty
  3. the pit hell
  4. Also called: orchestra pit the area that is occupied by the orchestra in a theatre, located in front of the stage
  5. an enclosure for fighting animals or birds, esp gamecocks
  6. anatomy
    1. a small natural depression on the surface of a body, organ, structure, or part; fossa
    2. the floor of any natural bodily cavitythe pit of the stomach
  7. pathol a small indented scar at the site of a former pustule; pockmark
  8. any of various small areas in a plant cell wall that remain unthickened when the rest of the cell becomes lignified, esp the vascular tissue
  9. a working area at the side of a motor-racing track for servicing or refuelling vehicles
  10. a section on the floor of a commodity exchange devoted to a special line of trading
  11. a rowdy card game in which players bid for commodities
  12. an area of sand or other soft material at the end of a long-jump approach, behind the bar of a pole vault, etc, on which an athlete may land safely
  13. the ground floor of the auditorium of a theatre
  14. British a slang word for bed (def. 1), bedroom (def. 1)
  15. another word for pitfall (def. 2)

verb pits, pitting or pitted

  1. (tr often foll by against) to match in opposition, esp as antagonists
  2. to mark or become marked with pits
  3. (tr) to place or bury in a pit


  1. the stone of a cherry, plum, etc

verb pits, pitting or pitted

  1. (tr) to extract the stone from (a fruit)


  1. a Scot word for put

n.1“hole, cavity,” Old English pytt “water hole, well; pit, grave,” from West Germanic *puttjaz “pool, puddle” (cf. Old Frisian pet, Old Saxon putti, Old Norse pyttr, Middle Dutch putte, Dutch put, Old High German pfuzza, German Pfütze “pool, puddle”), early borrowing from Latin puteus “well, pit, shaft.” Meaning “abode of evil spirits, hell” is attested from early 13c. Pit of the stomach (1650s) is from the slight depression there between the ribs. n.2“hard seed,” 1841, from Dutch pit “kernel, seed, marrow,” from Middle Dutch pitte, ultimately from West Germanic *pithan-, source of pith (q.v.). v.mid-15c., “to put into a pit,” from pit (n.1); especially for purposes of fighting (of cocks, dogs, pugilists) from 1760. Figurative sense of “to set in rivalry” is from 1754. Meaning “to make pits in” is from late 15c. Related: Pitted; pitting. Cf. Pit-bull as a dog breed attested from 1922, short for pit-bull terrier (by 1912). This also is the notion behind the meaning “the part of a theater on the floor of the house” (1640s). n.

  1. A natural hollow or depression in the body or an organ.
  2. A pockmark.
  3. A sharp-pointed depression in the enamel surface of a tooth, caused by faulty or incomplete calcification or formed by the confluent point of two or more lobes of enamel.


  1. To mark with cavities, depressions, or scars.
  2. To retain an impression after being indented. Used of the skin.

  1. The hard, inner layer (the endocarp) of certain drupes that are valued for their flesh, such as peaches, cherries, or olives. Not in scientific use.

The worst possible situation, as in Spending your birthday working alone is the pits, or That job is the pits. The allusion in this term is unclear. Some think it refers to coal pits, others to armpits, and still others to the area beside an auto racecourse, also called the pits, where cars are serviced during a race. [Second half of 1900s] In addition to the idiom beginning with pit

  • pit against
  • also see:

  • the pits
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