Last modified on 11 September 2014, at 11:04



Old English piþa, from Proto-Germanic *piþan (compare West Frisian piid 'pulp, kernel', Dutch peen 'carrot', Low German Peddik 'pulp, core'), from earlier *piþō (oblique *pittan). Doublet of pit. The verb meaning "to kill by cutting or piercing the spinal cord" is attested 1805.



pith (uncountable)

  1. The soft spongy substance in the center of the stems of many plants and trees.
  2. The spongy interior substance of a feather.
  3. The spinal cord; the marrow.
  4. (figuratively) The essential or vital part.
    The pith of my idea is truth.
    • Shakespeare
      enterprises of great pith and moment


Related termsEdit



pith (third-person singular simple present piths, present participle pithing, simple past and past participle pithed)

  1. (transitive) To extract the pith from (a plant stem or tree).
  2. (transitive) To kill (especially cattle or laboratory animals) by cutting or piercing the spinal cord.