Word of the Day: pit

pit (noun, verb) /pɪt/ LISTEN

A pit stop

A pit is a hole in the ground, a hole that serves as a trap, or one made for looking for mineral deposits. A mine is also called a pit. A small scar on the skin can be called apit (though this is often called an acne scar), and a pit is also an indention in any surface. In addition, pit is a closed area for dog or cock fights. As a verb, to pitmeans ‘to mark or indent a surface with a pit’ and also, with against, ‘to set two opponents to combat,’ literally or figuratively. Pit has another unrelated meaning: the stone of a fruit (for example, of an apricot, peach, or cherry); the verb pit means ‘to remove the stone from a fruit.’

Example sentences

  • The workers dug a large pit to put the trash in.
  • Sometimes, really bad acne can leave pits in people's faces.
  • The spectators watched as the two dogs fought in the pit.
  • Years of use had pitted holes in the old tabletop.
  • The generals pitted their two armies against one another.
  • I don't like it when teachers pit their students against each other and make them compete for the highest grade.
  • Always be careful when biting into an olive; it might still have the pit in it.
  • t can take ages to pit enough cherries to make a pie.

Words often used with pit

pit stop: This is the stop of a race car in the middle of the race to change tires, refuel, etc. It is also used for any stop when people are driving, usually to use the bathroom and get food. Example: “A crew of workers helped refuel the race car and change its tires during the pit stop.” “We drove all day but took pit stops every few hours.”
orchestra pit: the area in a theatre where the musicians play; this is also referred to as just “the pit.”

Did you know?

The expression “the pits” refers to a situation considered to be very bad. For example, you might say “I hate my job; it’s the pits!” The expression is figurative, making reference to the idea of a pit as a trap or a dark and difficult place to get out of.


Pit dates back to before the year 900, as the Old English and later Middle English noun pytt. It comes from the Latin word puteus, which meant ‘well, pit or shaft.’ The verb derived from the noun. Its other meaning, the stone of a fruit, comes from the Dutch word pit, which means kernel. It first appeared in US English in the middle of the 19th century.

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