black as pitch


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black as pitch

Totally dark, without any illumination. Distilling coal, peat, and other organic substances yield a very dark resinous residue called pitch (“pitch” and “tar” have became virtually synonymous). Anything that dark made a very good simile for “black.” The contemporary expression is “pitch black.” Those who chose to give the absence of light a theological cast would have said “black as sin,” while an imaginative Irish simile was “as black as the Earl of Hell's waistcoat.”
See also: black, pitch
References in periodicals archive ?
A superbly presented and original work of seminal history, A Mile Deep And Black As Pitch is especially recommended to the attention of students as well as non-specialist general readers with an interest in American's mining industry and the contributions deep shaft ore mining has made to the development and expansion of the American nation.