Pit stop

Pit stop is an idiom that has been in use since the 1800s. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common saying pit stop, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

The idiom pit stop means a rest stop, especially when one is traveling, in order to relieve one’s bladder, to stretch one’s legs, or to obtain refreshments. The idiom pit stop is derived from the literal term, pit stop, which is an automobile racing term. In automobile racing, a pit stop means a break that an automobile racer takes in order to refuel and check the mechanical viability of his automobile. The word pit has been used since the 1800s to mean the place where engines are repaired. The expression pit stop to mean a rest stop when one is traveling came into use in earnest around the 1920s, and its popularity has soared since the 1980s.


More than 50 people gathered at the Central Maine Veterans Memorial Park Tuesday afternoon to cheer on the Wreaths Across America convoy as it made a pit stop on its way to Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. (Kennebec Journal & Morning Sentinel)

On the way back to New York from Greensboro, [North Carolina,] we made a pit stop in Richmond. (Richmond Magazine)

Around noon Sunday, a reportedly all-White group driving about a thousand jeeps, pickups and motorcycles flying “Back the Blue” banners and at least one Confederate battle flag, according to news reports, showed up to the parking lot at Friendship West for what they said was a “pit stop” during a highway parade to support police. (D Magazine)

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