Definition of pith in English:

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Pronunciation: /pɪθ/


[mass noun]
1The spongy white tissue lining the rind of oranges, lemons, and other citrus fruits.
Example sentences
  • Remove the rind and white pith from the lemons and then cut the flesh into very thin slices, removing the pips.
  • But I can't eat citrus that has any white pith on it.
  • Remove the zest of the oranges and set aside, peel the bitter white pith and discard, then pulp the oranges and combine the pulp with the zest.
1.1 Botany The spongy cellular tissue in the stems and branches of many higher plants.
Example sentences
  • The stems and rachises both contain a high percentage of pith and vascular tissue.
  • The lowest values were recorded in stem pith cells.
  • No dye was found in the central pith area of the stem segment except close to the basal cut surface.
1.2 archaic Spinal marrow.
2The essence of something: the pith and core of socialism
More example sentences
  • Paul Harvey summed up the general pith of the global gist at noon, but he rarely broke news.
  • For Frank Lenahan, a University Cafe stalwart enjoying a mid-morning coffee with his friends, however, the soap ‘lacked the vigour and pith of Scottish life’.
  • It is the pith of civilization and of man's human existence.
essence, essential part, main point, fundamental point, heart, substance, heart of the matter, nub, core, quintessence, point, crux, gist, salient point, focal point, nucleus, meat, kernel, marrow, burden
informal nitty-gritty
3Vigour and conciseness of expression: he writes with a combination of pith and exactitude
More example sentences
  • So anyway the story is short and lacking in pith.
  • Journalists are apt to focus upon the pith, that is.
  • I am not a great connoisseur of literature and my choices may be controversial but they are solely intended to encourage pith and to share the pleasure I get when I come across sentences that strike me as complete in themselves.
succinctness, conciseness, concision, pithiness, economy of language, brevity;
vigour, cogency, weight, depth, force, forcefulness, power, strength


[with object]
1Remove the pith from: peel and pith the oranges
2Pierce or sever the spinal cord of (an animal) so as to kill or immobilize it.
Example sentences
  • Animals were pithed through the right orbit to the spinal column with a round copper rod of 1.5 mm in diameter.
  • Adult frogs were anaesthetized in 15% ethanol, then killed by pithing.
  • Cattle are humanely stunned with a captive bolt stunner that penetrates or piths the brain rendering the animal unable to feel pain.



Example sentences
  • Now I can cut them into beautiful pithless little segments, I can't get enough of having a grapefruit for my breakfast.
  • For example, Ortanique's foie gras starter comes with three pithless orange slices which are dredged in turbinado sugar and then caramelized with a propane torch.


Old English pitha, of West Germanic origin.

  • pit from Old English:

    The pit that is a large hole in the ground is based on Latin puteus ‘well shaft’. As a North American term for the stone of a fruit, pit seems to have been taken from Dutch in the 19th century, and is related to Old English pith. Since the 1960s people have used pits as an informal shortened term for armpits (Late Middle English). These often have a tendency to be damp and smelly and so it was but a small linguistic leap to have them symbolize the worst example of something. That is one explanation of to be the pits, ‘to be extremely bad’. A more refined interpretation connects the bottom of a deep, dark hole with the lowest possible rank or class. The verb meaning ‘to test in a conflict or competition’, as in pit your wits, comes from the former practice of setting animals such as cocks or dogs to fight each other. The creatures were ‘pitted’ or put together in a pit or other enclosure (literally a cockpit), a sense used from the mid 18th century.

Words that rhyme with pith

myth, outwith, smith

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: pith

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