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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.
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.
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.
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.
3. The cause or source of something, typically something difficult or problematic. Everything is going wrong lately, like challenges are coming from a bottomless pit or something.
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.
pit (one's) wits against (someone or something)
To engage in a contest of intelligence with someone or something. In the show, five couples 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.
dig a pit for (someone or something)
To attempt to ensnare or trap someone or something. The FBI has been digging a pit for that very dangerous criminal.
make a pit stop
1. To come to a stop during an auto race to repair or refuel the racing vehicle. The area where the vehicle stops is known as the "pit." 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. By extension, to make a short stop 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 to make several pit stops along the way to give myself a break.
the pit of the stomach
An area in the core of one's abdomen, approximately in or near one's stomach, in which one feels a physical response to strong emotion, especially fear, stress, or anxiety. The film leaves you with an awful feeling of dread in the pit of the stomach as you realize that, not only could something like that happen in real life, it could happen at any given second.
the pit of (one's) stomach
An area in the core of one's abdomen, approximately in or near one's stomach, in which one feels a physical response to strong emotion, especially fear, stress, or anxiety. I've had this awful feeling in the pit of my stomach all morning because I know we'll be finding out the results to the final exam this afternoon.
pit (someone or something) against (someone or something else)
To set someone or something into direct conflict, opposition, or competition against someone or something else. She liked pitting men against each other to vie for her affection. The country has pitted itself against the rest of the world with its plan to develop nuclear weapons.
dated slang A place, especially a drive-in movie theater, where many young people come together on dates or romantic outings, so called because of the tendency for physical intimacy to occur there. A: "Let's go out this weekend." B: "OK, let's see what's playing at the passion pit." There's this passion pit a little ways up in the mountains where high schoolers and college kids park their cars and hook up.
have one's shoulder to the wheeland 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.
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.
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.
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]
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]
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.
pit your wits against someoneBRITISH
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.
dig a pit fortry to trap.
This is a common biblical metaphor: for example, in Jeremiah 18:20 we find ‘they have digged a pit for my soul’.
be the pitsbe 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.
the pit of your (or the) stomachan ill-defined region of the lower abdomen seen as the seat of strong feelings, especially anxiety.
pit your wits againstcompete 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.
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
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.
the pit of your/the ˈstomachthe 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.