Origin of pitch

1175–1225; (v.) Middle English picchen to thrust, pierce, set, set up (a tent, etc.), array, throw; perhaps akin to pick1; (noun) derivative of the v.
Related formspitch·a·ble, adjective

Synonyms for pitch

3. See throw.




any of various dark, tenacious, and viscous substances for caulking and paving, consisting of the residue of the distillation of coal tar or wood tar.
any of certain bitumens, as asphalt: mineral pitch.
any of various resins.
the sap or crude turpentine that exudes from the bark of pines.

verb (used with object)

to smear or cover with pitch.

Origin of pitch

before 900; Middle English pich, Old English pic < Latin pic- (stem of pix), whence also Dutch pek, German Pech; akin to Greek píssa pitch
Related formspitch·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pitch

Contemporary Examples of pitch

Historical Examples of pitch

  • Then the body had become a "mummy" because it was filled with "Mumiai" or pitch.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • They told how Tomo was wrought to a pitch of frenzied interest by this manhunt.

  • The picture became obscured, and presently it was pitch dark.

  • Draw a diagram representing the circumference line and pitch in feet.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • The captain had ordered Cooper to boil some pitch at the galley.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

British Dictionary definitions for pitch




to hurl or throw (something); cast; fling
(usually tr) to set up (a camp, tent, etc)
(tr) to place or thrust (a stake, spear, etc) into the ground
(intr) to move vigorously or irregularly to and fro or up and down
(tr) to aim or fix (something) at a particular level, position, style, etcif you advertise privately you may pitch the price too low
(tr) to aim to sell (a product) to a specified market or on a specified basis
(intr) to slope downwards
(intr) to fall forwards or downwards
(intr) (of a vessel) to dip and raise its bow and stern alternately
cricket to bowl (a ball) so that it bounces on a certain part of the wicket, or (of a ball) to bounce on a certain part of the wicket
(intr) (of a missile, aircraft, etc) to deviate from a stable flight attitude by movement of the longitudinal axis about the lateral axisCompare yaw (def. 1), roll (def. 14)
(tr) (in golf) to hit (a ball) steeply into the air, esp with backspin to minimize roll
(tr) music
  1. to sing or play accurately (a note, interval, etc)
  2. (usually passive)(of a wind instrument) to specify or indicate its basic key or harmonic series by its size, manufacture, etc
(tr) cards to lead (a suit) and so determine trumps for that trick
  1. (tr)to throw (a baseball) to a batter
  2. (intr)to act as pitcher in a baseball game
Southwest English dialect (used with it as subject) to snow without the settled snow melting
in there pitching US and Canadian informal taking part with enthusiasm
pitch a tale or pitch a yarn to tell a story, usually of a fantastic nature


the degree of elevation or depression
  1. the angle of descent of a downward slope
  2. such a slope
the extreme height or depth
mountaineering a section of a route between two belay points, sometimes equal to the full length of the rope but often shorter
the degree of slope of a roof, esp when expressed as a ratio of height to span
the distance between corresponding points on adjacent members of a body of regular form, esp the distance between teeth on a gearwheel or between threads on a screw thread
the distance between regularly spaced objects such as rivets, bolts, etc
the pitching motion of a ship, missile, etc
  1. the distance a propeller advances in one revolution, assuming no slip
  2. the blade angle of a propeller or rotor
the distance between the back rest of a seat in a passenger aircraft and the back of the seat in front of it
  1. the auditory property of a note that is conditioned by its frequency relative to other noteshigh pitch; low pitch
  2. an absolute frequency assigned to a specific note, fixing the relative frequencies of all other notes. The fundamental frequencies of the notes A–G, in accordance with the frequency A = 440 hertz, were internationally standardized and accepted in 1939See also concert pitch (def. 1), international pitch
cricket the rectangular area between the stumps, 22 yards long and 10 feet wide; the wicket
geology the inclination of the axis of an anticline or syncline or of a stratum or vein from the horizontal
another name for seven-up
the act or manner of pitching a ball, as in cricket
mainly British a vendor's station, esp on a pavement
slang a persuasive sales talk, esp one routinely repeated
mainly British (in many sports) the field of play
Also called: pitch shot golf an approach shot in which the ball is struck in a high arc
make a pitch for US and Canadian slang
  1. to give verbal support to
  2. to attempt to attract (someone) sexually or romantically
queer someone's pitch British informal to upset someone's plans

Word Origin for pitch

C13 picchen; possibly related to pick 1




any of various heavy dark viscid substances obtained as a residue from the distillation of tarsSee also coal-tar pitch
any of various similar substances, such as asphalt, occurring as natural deposits
any of various similar substances obtained by distilling certain organic substances so that they are incompletely carbonized
crude turpentine obtained as sap from pine treesRelated adjective: piceous


(tr) to apply pitch to (something)

Word Origin for pitch

Old English pic, from Latin pix
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for pitch

"resinous substance, wood tar," late 12c., pich, from Old English pic "pitch," from a Germanic borrowing (cf. Old Saxon and Old Frisian pik, Middle Dutch pik, Dutch pek, Old High German pek, German Pech, Old Norse bik) from Latin pix (genitive picis) "pitch," from PIE root *pi- "sap, juice" (cf. Greek pissa, Lithuanian pikis, Old Church Slavonic piklu "pitch;" see pine (n.)). Applied to pine resins from late 14c. Pitch-black is attested from 1590s; pitch-dark from 1680s.


c.1200, "to thrust in, fasten, settle," probably from an unrecorded Old English *piccean, related to prick (v.). The original past tense was pight. Sense of "set upright," as in pitch a tent (late 13c.), is from notion of "driving in" the pegs. Meaning to incline forward and downward" is from 1510s. Meaning "throw (a ball)" evolved late 14c. from that of "hit the mark." Musical sense is from 1670s. Of ships, "to plunge" in the waves, 1620s. To pitch in "work vigorously" is from 1847, perhaps from farm labor. Related: Pitched; pitching.


1520s, "something that is pitched," from pitch (v.1). Meaning "act of throwing" is attested from 1833. Meaning "act of plunging headfirst" is from 1762; sense of "slope, degree, inclination" is from 1540s; musical sense is from 1590s; but the connection of these is obscure. Sales pitch in the modern commercial advertising sense is from 1943, American English, perhaps from the baseball sense.


"to cover with pitch," Old English pician, from the source of pitch (n.2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for pitch



A thick, tarlike substance obtained by distilling coal tar, used for roofing, waterproofing, and paving.
Any of various natural bitumens, such as asphalt, having similar uses.
A resin derived from the sap of a cone-bearing tree, such as a pine.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with pitch


In addition to the idioms beginning with pitch

  • pitched battle, a
  • pitch in
  • pitch into
  • pitch on
  • pitch woo

also see:

  • black as night (pitch)
  • in there pitching
  • make a pitch for
  • sales pitch
  • wild pitch
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.