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the pits

A very unpleasant or unfortunate thing, situation, or circumstance. I'm sorry to hear about your divorce, Sam—that's the pits! I worked as a telemarketer one summer, and it was the pits.
See also: pit

money pit

A business, possession, or other financial commitment that requires or consumes an increasingly large amount of money, especially more than was first anticipated. I bought this restaurant because of its prime downtown location, but with all the repairs and the huge amount of staff needed to run it, it's proven to be quite a money pit. The problem with buying used cars is that, even if they started off being cheap, they often turn into money pits as they start breaking down.
See also: money, pit

be the pits

To be particularly bad, unfortunate, or awful, especially of a situation or outcome. Well, this is the pits. I absolutely cannot believe such a huge thunderstorm came through just as we were getting our picnic set up. I was so excited about this job when I first started. I wish I would have known it'd be the pits.
See also: pit

a bottomless pit

1. A person who is always hungry. Her teenage son was like a bottomless pit as he devoured every last bit of food in the house.
2. A situation that requires a seemingly endless amount of money or resources. With all the money and time we've sunk into repairs for the roof, windows, and foundation, this house has become a bottomless pit.
See also: bottomless, pit

pit stop

1. A stop during an auto race to repair or refuel the racing vehicle. With only three laps left, he'll have to decide whether to make a pit stop or try to reach the finish without running out of gas.
2. A short stop taken during a car trip to eat, rest, and/or refuel. I knew it was going to be a long drive from New York to Florida, so I planned several pit stops along the way to give myself a break.
See also: pit, stop

pit (one's) wits against (someone or something)

To engage in a contest of intelligence with someone or something. In the show, five teams of two will pit their wits against each other to see who knows more pop-culture trivia. The best chess player in the world is pitting his wits against a supercomputer developed by the US government.
See also: pit, wit

have one's shoulder to the wheel

 and keep one's shoulder to the wheel; pit one's shoulder to the wheel
Fig. to do the hard work that needs to be done; to focus on getting a job done. You won't accomplish anything unless you put your shoulder to the wheel. I put my shoulder to the wheel and finished the job quickly.
See also: have, shoulder, wheel

pit of one's stomach

Fig. the middle of one's stomach; the location of a "visceral response." I got a strange feeling in the pit of my stomach when they told me the bad news.
See also: of, pit, stomach

pit someone or something against someone or something

to set someone or something in opposition to someone or something. The rules of the tournament pit their team against ours. John pitted Mary against Sally in the tennis match.
See also: pit

pit against

Set in direct opposition or competition, as in The civil war pitted brother against brother. This idiom alludes to setting fighting cocks or dogs against one another in a pit. [Mid-1700s]
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the pits

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]
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the pits

If you describe something as the pits, you mean that it is extremely bad. Mary Ann asked him how dinner had been. `The pits,' he replied. Reading someone else's diary is the pits.
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pit your wits against someone

If you pit your wits against someone, you use your intelligence to try to defeat them. I'm as ambitious as the next man. I'd like to manage a team at the very highest level and pit my wits against the best. He enjoyed pitting his wits against those of the Wall Street analysts.
See also: pit, wit

dig a pit for

try to trap.
This is a common biblical metaphor: for example, in Jeremiah 18:20 we find ‘they have digged a pit for my soul’.
See also: dig, pit

be the pits

be extremely bad or the worst of its kind. informal
Pits is a mid 20th-century informal term for ‘armpits’ and has connotations of body odour; from this it came to refer generally to something regarded as bad or unpleasant.
See also: pit

the pit of your (or the) stomach

an ill-defined region of the lower abdomen seen as the seat of strong feelings, especially anxiety.
See also: of, pit, stomach

pit your wits against

compete with someone or something.
1996 Earl Lovelace Salt Michael…would be the one to make money…there was no greater cause or adversary to pit his wits and slickness and spite against.
See also: pit, wit

a bottomless ˈpit (of something)

a thing or situation which seems to have no limits or seems never to end: There isn’t a bottomless pit of money for public spending.the bottomless pit of his sorrow
See also: bottomless, pit

make a ˈpit stop

(informal, especially American English) stop for a short time during a long journey by road for a rest, meal, etc: I’m getting a bit hungry. Shall we make a pit stop at the next service station?
In motor racing, a pit stop is an occasion when a car stops during a race for more fuel, etc.
See also: make, pit, stop

the pit of your/the ˈstomach

the bottom of the stomach where people say they feel strong feelings, especially fear: He had a sudden sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
See also: of, pit, stomach

ˌpit your ˈwits (against somebody/something)

compete with somebody/something in a test of intelligence or knowledge: He’s pitting his wits against the computer chess game.
See also: pit, wit

be the ˈpits

(informal) be very bad; be the worst kind of something: The teaching at this school is the pits.This newspaper really is the pits. OPPOSITE: be the bomb
See also: pit

pit against

To set someone or something in competition with or opposition to someone or something else: The civil war pitted brother against brother. The match will pit the two greatest boxers against each other. The grading system pits one student against another and discourages cooperation.
See also: pit

bottomless pit

1. n. a very hungry person. The guy is a bottomless pit. There isn’t enough food in town to fill him up.
2. n. an endless source of something, usually something troublesome. Our problems come from a bottomless pit. There is just no end to them.
See also: bottomless, pit


n. a drive-in movie theater; any place where young people go to neck, such as an area where teenagers park. (Dated but still heard.) She wanted me to drive down to the passion-pit, but I said I had a headache.

pit stop

1. n. a pause in a journey (usually by car) to urinate. (From the name of a service stop in automobile racing.) I think we’ll pull in at the next rest area. I need a pit stop.
2. n. an underarm deodorant. (Because it stops armpit odor.) Can I borrow your pit stop? I need it bad.
See also: pit, stop


1. n. the armpits. (Usually crude.) Man, you have a problem in your pits.
2. and the pits n. anything really bad. (Always with the in this sense.) This whole day was the pits from beginning to end.
3. and the pits n. the depths of despair. (Always with the in this sense. Often with in as in the example.) It’s always in the pits with him.
See also: pit

the pits

See pits
See also: pit
References in classic literature ?
I quitted the island, as I said, without any escort except my ass; I fell into a pit, I pushed on through it, until this morning by the light of the sun I saw an outlet, but not so easy a one but that, had not heaven sent me my master Don Quixote, I'd have stayed there till the end of the world.
Quick, guardsmen, to the pits with the black maniac who wishes to throw his life away for a poor joke upon your ruler
Day after day was the thing repeated, until I was on the verge of madness; and then, as I had done in the pits of the Warhoons, I took a new, firm hold upon my reason and forced it back into the channels of sanity.
Down the spiral path of the pit they bore him, encircling the sheening, glowing Red One that seemed ever imminent to iridesce from colour and light into sweet singing and thunder.
So absorbed was the ape-man in speculation as to the purpose of the covered pit that he permitted the blacks to depart in the direction of their village without the usual baiting which had rendered him the terror of Mbonga's people and had afforded Tarzan both a vehicle of revenge and a source of inexhaustible delight.
Puzzle as he would, however, he could not solve the mystery of the concealed pit, for the ways of the blacks were still strange ways to Tarzan.
Sniffing suspiciously, he circled the edge of the pit.
Returning along the passage, on the left-hand side from the stage, and looking about me attentively, I discovered him in the pit.
Many a burst of applause from the pit that night started from the soft, comfortable patting of the black-gloved hands.
The rope came in tight and strained; and ring after ring was coiled upon the barrel of the windlass, and all eyes were fastened on the pit.
As these were made, they were hung upon an arm of the pitman who had last come up, with instructions how to use them: and as he stood, shown by the light he carried, leaning his powerful loose hand upon one of the poles, and sometimes glancing down the pit, and sometimes glancing round upon the people, he was not the least conspicuous figure in the scene.
In that case my end would be no more certain, though infinitely more horrible and painful, for in the pits I should be subjected to cruel vivisection.
That you return to them that which you stole from the pits of Phutra when you killed the four Mahars and escaped," he replied.
And you would know more, I can prove my right to be heard and to be believed if I may have word with the Princess Haja of Gathol, whose son is my fellow prisoner in the pits of O-Tar, his father.
And what is it to the jed of Manatos who be the prisoners in the pits of his jeddak?