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|English to English translations [Non-PRO]|
Art/Literary - Idioms / Maxims / Sayings
|English term or phrase: Life is the pits|
|Hello, does anybody know what does this saying mean? and is there a story behind it?|
I don't think that the expression has anything to do with the "pit" of any fruit, cherries or otherwise.
The Oxford English Dictionary is somewhat ambiguous on the question, but rules out the "seed" origin for sure :
1. a. A hole or cavity in the ground, formed either by digging or by some natural process.
e. A deep hole or chamber in which prisoners were confined, a dungeon. ? Obs. exc. Hist.
1512 Act 4 Hen. VIII, c. 8 Preamb., The said Richard was taken and imprisoned in a doungen and a depe pytt under grounde.
4. The abode of evil spirits and lost souls; hell, or some part of it, conceived as a sunken place, or as a dungeon or place of confinement. Often in phr. the pit of hell.
a1225 Juliana 15 (Bodl. MS.) To forwure wi him..ie putte of helle
14. the pits (slang, orig. U.S.), the worst or most despicable example of something; freq. applied to a person considered particularly obnoxious or contemptible.
1953 Newsweek 2 Nov. 54/3 A bad exam experience would be ‘I'm wasted’ at Howard,..‘It was the pits’ at Vassar.
1965 Amer. Speech XL. 194 Pits, n. This is a slang abbreviation of the term armpits, again with an extension of meaning to entail the idea of body odor (‘He's got the pits’) or, more broadly, something unpleasant (‘It [the party] was really the pits’).
1976 New Yorker 1 Mar. 87/3 If there are gradations in the pits, ‘I Will, I Will..For Now’ is even worse than ‘Gable and Lombard’. It combines the most simperingly forced elements of fifties mistaken-identity farces with a mushy, soft-core version of the sex-manual pornos.
1979 New Society 20 Dec. p. xi/3 If Dors is the very personification of the buxom backside of the other Britain..then Joan Collins is the pits. Just the pits.
1981 Observer 22 Nov. 11 I've never been fined for saying something obscene. It's always been for saying ‘You're the pits,’ or something.John McEnroe.
1985 J. FULLER Mass viii. 239 Hey, give me a little comfort here. This weather is the pits.
Note added at 2 days 17 hrs 16 mins (2005-04-05 15:10:01 GMT)
The full resources of the reference room of a large midwestern U.S. university are not enough to settle the question of the origin of the term, apparently.
About the only thing all dictionaries of slang agree on is that it is of U.S. origin, becomming common in U.K. English only relatively recently (c. 1970, says Eric Partridge).
Most suggest an initial date of circa 1950, though one said \"19th century or before\". None gave specific references, however.
Ruth\'s suggestion of a junkie/jazz origin looks probable at first glance, but I can\'t find the expression in any book on African American Slang --which is curious in and of itself.
\"Pits\" as short for \"armpits\" is mentioned in some dictionaries, but others suggest the \"pit = hell\" meaning, which has, as the OED says, a *much* longer history of use.
One of the problems with nailing down the first usage of a slang expression is that it can be in rather wide use before it appears in print.
Selected response from:
Local time: 11:05
|gracias a todos por sus sugerencias, esta vez fue difícil escoger a quien darle los kudoz|
4 KudoZ points were awarded for this answer
2 mins confidence: peer agreement (net): +11