[ pith ]
See synonyms for: pithpiths on Thesaurus.com

  1. Botany. the soft, spongy central cylinder of parenchymatous tissue in the stems of dicotyledonous plants.

  2. the white, spongy part of a citrus fruit between the rind and the thin, transparent skin of individual segments.

  1. Zoology. the soft inner part of a feather, a hair, etc.

  2. the important or essential part; essence; core; heart: the pith of the matter.

  3. significant weight; substance; solidity: an argument without pith.

  4. Archaic. spinal cord or bone marrow.

  5. Archaic. strength, force, or vigor; mettle: men of pith.

verb (used with object)
  1. to remove the pith from (plants).

  2. to destroy the spinal cord or brain of.

  1. to slaughter, as cattle, by severing the spinal cord.

Origin of pith

First recorded before before 900; Middle English pith(e), pitthe, Old English pitha; cognate with Dutch pit; see pit2

Words Nearby pith

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use pith in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for pith


/ (pɪθ) /

  1. the soft fibrous tissue lining the inside of the rind in fruits such as the orange and grapefruit

  2. the essential or important part, point, etc

  1. weight; substance

  2. Also called: medulla botany the central core of unspecialized cells surrounded by conducting tissue in stems

  3. the soft central part of a bone, feather, etc

  1. to destroy the brain and spinal cord of (a laboratory animal) by piercing or severing

  2. to kill (animals) by severing the spinal cord

  1. to remove the pith from (a plant)

Origin of pith

Old English pitha; compare Middle Low German pedik, Middle Dutch pitt (e)

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

Scientific definitions for pith


[ pĭth ]

  1. The soft, spongy tissue in the center of the stems of most flowering plants, gymnosperms, and ferns. Pith is composed of parenchyma cells. In plants that undergo secondary growth, such as angiosperms, the pith is surrounded by the vascular tissues and is gradually compressed by the inward growth of the vascular tissue known as xylem. In plants with woody stems, the pith dries out and often disintegrates as the plant grows older, leaving the stem hollow. See illustration at xylem.

  1. To remove the pith from a plant stem.

  2. To sever or destroy the spinal cord of an animal for the purpose of dissecting it, usually by inserting a needle into the spinal canal.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.