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The pits

Posted by ESC on June 17, 2010 at 13:59

In Reply to: The pits posted by James Briggs on June 17, 2010 at 06:56:

: : : : Does anyone know the origin of the phrase "This is the pits?"

: : : I was thinking pits as in the depths of despair. But two references say it is pits as in armpits. The expression is "Mainstream 1960s," according to "Flappers 2 Rappers: American Youth Slang" by Tom Dalzell (Merriam-Webster Inc., Springfield, Md., 1996), Page 119. It was first used in the late 1970s, according to "

: : Then there's reference No. 3 that puts it back to the 1950s and says it relates to 1. the depths of despair (what I said) and 2. a situation, object or person who is "totally undesirable." "Cassell's Dictionary of Slang" by Jonathon Green (Wellington House, London, 1998). Page 923. All three agree that it is a U.S. expression.

: I think the first time that anyone in the UK heard the expression was a John McInroe outburst at a Wimbledon championship in the 1980s. It caused a press uproar because no one knew what it meant and reporters assumed something really vile!

He has parlayed boorish behavior into a career as a pitchman for National Car Rental and American Express. YouTube links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=86_lLQQT3zw&NR=1 and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6zhiGY19hyc