money pit

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money pit (plural money pits)

  1. (idiomatic) A possession or financial commitment that creates substantial ongoing expenses, especially one whose costs are considered to be unsustainable.
    • 1989 March 10, Laurence Iliff, "Parents Poll Hits Closing Of Ramona," The Press-Courier (USA), p. 1 (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011):
      [T]he district does not want to hold on to the nearly 50-year old school for very much longer, as it has outlived its usefulness and has become a money pit.
    • 1997 Feb. 15, Michael Kimmelman, "An Old Dream For the Arts, A New Chance For the City," New York Times (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011):
      Critics lambasted the building's design, the art collection and Mr. Hartford, whose gallery became a money pit. Within a year he was nosing around for a partner or buyer.
    • 2007 June 14, Jeff Kluger, "Is the Space Station a Money Pit?," Time:
      Close to two decades past deadline and now carrying a projected $100 billion price tag, it has not returned a lick of good science — nor is it likely to.
  2. (sometimes capitalized) Long-standing nickname of a complicated, seemingly man-made excavation on Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, rumored to contain pirate treasure and which has been repeatedly and unsuccessfully probed at great expense.
    • 1909 May 20, "Is Capt. Kid's Treasure in Chester Basin, N.S.?," St. John Sun (Canada) (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011):
      In 1896 . . . work was again started with two engines and steam pumps, with the intention of pumping out the "money pit".
    • 1926 June 6, Catherine MacKenzie, "Tide Guards Oak Island's Buried Gold," New York Times, p. SM11:
      They sank twenty shafts in a ring round the central money pit, and drove tunnels endlessly in the hope of intercepting the underground channel and so draining the treasure shaft.
    • 1947 June 4, "Gigantic Search For Treaure May Move Island," Ottawa Citizen (Canada), p. 29 (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011):
      Edward Reichert, a New Yorker, was planning "a gigantic project" . . . to move in power excavation equipment to seek the storied "money pit".
    • 1972 Dec. 5, Tom Tiede, "Diggers Keep Seeking Hole Truth of Island's Pirate Treasure Shaft," Milwaukee Journal (USA), p. 1 (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011):
      The Money Pit shaft rested atop two 500 foot "protection tunnels" which were connected to the bay.
    • 1991 July 15, "Hunting for the Grandddaddy of Pirate Treasures," (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011):
      But the granddaddy of all hoards could be resting at the bottom of a 200- foot shaft on Oak Island, off Nova Scotia. This so-called Money Pit has exercised a moth-to-flame attractive power over investors since it was discovered in 1795.