General English

General Science

  • noun a large hole in the ground, e.g. for burying or planting something
  • noun an area of land from which minerals, especially coal, are removed, and the buildings associated with the activity.


  • noun the stone in certain fruit, e.g. in cherries, plums, peaches or dried fruit such as raisins and dates


  • noun the area of a stock exchange or of a commodities exchange where dealers trade


  • noun a bump or impression on the surface of an optical disk that represents a bit of data, created by a master disk during manufacture


  • An excavation, quarry, or mine made or worked by the open cut method. A pit seldom goes below the ground water level.
  • The area between the stage and the first row of seats in a theater.
  • A small hole or cavity on a surface.


  • On an optical disc, such as a CD or DVD, an indented portion, as opposed to a non-indented portion which is called land (2). The laser beam is reflected off the lands, while being scattered or absorbed by the pits.
  • A small cavity or depression on a surface or material. Such a pit may be unwanted, as in a damaged surface, or desired, as is the case of a pit (1).


  • The placed located on an exchange's trading floor where futures or option contract trading occurs by open outcry. An active forex futures pit has traditionally operated on the Chicago IMM exchange for each major currency pair and delivery month.


  • noun a hollow place on a surface


  • noun a wide deep man-made hole in the ground


  • noun a bed. A popular word in the armed services since before World War II, now in general use.
  • noun any dirty, sordid or unpleasant place. A more recent alternative to dump, a synonym for tip.


  • In the Elizabethan theater, the central unroofed area of theauditorium that offered the cheapest places. The name comes from thecockpits used for cockfighting. The pit (sometimes called the yard)provided standing room only and was used mostly by the lower classes.This tended to place the most rowdy theatregoers nearest to the stage,increasing the accuracy with which oranges and other missiles werehurled at the actors. Similarly in the French theater, the area correspondingto the pit often contained 1000 spectators standing, jostling, andfighting one another (a serious matter, since they could wear swords).

    In the early English playhouses the stage and lower boxeswere at ground level and the pit was sunk between them. In the 16thcentury admission to the pit cost a penny, rising in the 17th centuryto two pennies. After the Restoration, the three grand theaters - Drury Lane, Lincoln's Inn Fields Theatre, and Dorset Garden Theatre - introduced slanted pits to improve visibility and began toprovide backless benches for everyone. One reason for the demise ofthe apron stage was the need to create more seats in thepit. In the early 19th century, a raised circle replaced the lowerboxes and the pit was extended backwards underneath it. Soon afterwards,the cheap pit benches were replaced by the stalls, whichbecame the highest priced seats in the house; only the back rows werestill referred to as the pit. Modern theaters have no pit.

Origin & History of “pit”

English has two words pit. The older, ‘hole’ (OE), comes ultimately from Latin puteus ‘pit, well’ (source also of French puits ‘well, shaft’), but reached English via a Germanic route. It was borrowed in prehistoric times into west Germanic as *putti, which has evolved into German pfütze ‘pool’, Dutch put ‘pit’, and English pit.

Pit ‘fruit-stone’ (19th c.) may have been borrowed from Dutch pit, which goes back to a prehistoric West Germanic *pithan, source of English pith (OE).