Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Charles Cage wrote, “I’m confused. You use a tuning fork to test pitch. But a pitch fork moves hay. A pitch pipe coordinates voices, but offers no help in keeping my birch bark canoe from leaking. The President gets the first pitch in baseball.”

You get the idea. Charles was focusing on pitch and its multiple meanings. The Oxford English Dictionary lists two nouns and two verbs.

Pitch1 comes from a Greek word meaning a tarry substance. It is used to designate

  • a substance used to caulk the seams of ships and to waterproof wood
  • a resin that exudes from some coniferous trees
  • asphalt or bitumen

Pitch2 includes

  • an inclination or slope
  • the angle of a mining stratum
  • the steepness of a roof
  • the slope of a flight of stairs
  • the downward angle of the slope of a plough
  • the inclination of the teeth of a saw
  • the angle between the relative wind direction and the plane
  • the forward plunge of a ship
  • theaction of pitching of a spacecraft around a lateral axis
  • the action of throwing a ball to a batter
  • in cricket, the point where the ball first strikes the ground after being bowled
  • a lofted approach shot in golf
  • a quantity of something thrown, such as hay
  • a proposed plan
  • patter or spiel designed to sell things or ideas
  • the highest or extreme point
  • the degree of highness or lowness of a sound
  • the density of typed or printed characters on a line
  • the distance between the successive convolutions of the thread of a screw

The verb uses of pitch mirror the nouns above.

Available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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