February 01, 2019
pitfall (noun)
\PIT-fawl\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
: a danger or difficulty that is hidden or is not easily recognized
How do you use it?
"For the first time in his life, Kim thrilled to the clean pride (it can be a deadly pitfall, none the less) of Departmental praise--ensnaring praise from an equal of work appreciated by fellow-workers." (Rudyard Kipling, _Kim_)
Are you a word wiz?

In our definition, we've given you the most common sense of "pitfall," but there is an earlier sense. Which of the answers given below do you think is the other sense of "pitfall"?

You avoided our traps if you chose answer D! The earliest sense of "pitfall" refers to a type of trap used to capture animals or people. This particular trap is made by digging a deep pit in the ground, covering it, and then camouflaging it. When the quarry walks over the cover, it falls through the cover into the pit and is trapped. This literal "pitfall" gave rise to the figurative sense we use today of a hidden danger or difficulty.
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