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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English pith, pithe, from Old English piþa, from Proto-Germanic *piþô (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.


  • IPA(key): /pɪθ/
  • Rhymes: -ɪθ
  • (file)


pith (usually uncountable, plural piths)

  1. (botany) The soft, spongy substance in the center of the stems of many plants and trees.
  2. The spongy interior substance of a feather or horn.
  3. (anatomy) The spinal cord; the marrow.
  4. (botany) The albedo of a citrus fruit.
  5. (figurative) The essential or vital part; force; energy; importance.
    The pith of my idea is that people should choose their own work hours.
  6. (figurative) Power, strength, might.
Derived terms[edit]


English Wikipedia has an article on:

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.

Etymology 2[edit]

From pi (number 3.14159...) +‎ -th.

Alternative forms[edit]



pith (not comparable)

  1. The ordinal form of the number pi.
    The pith root of pi is approximately 1.439...
    • 1998 June 21, “For what x is x^x real?”, in alt.algebra.help[1] (Usenet), message-ID <6mhv6n$13l$1@nnrp1.dejanews.com>:
      e^(-pi/2), which is the reciprocal of the square root of e to the pith power.
    • 2000 August 9, alice, “Re: Eyecandy: Meet Compton the new Lightweight Composite Manager”, in aus.comms.mobile[2] (Usenet), message-ID <B5B6F806.53B5%alice@alice-didit.com>:
      That's nothing. I have an IMEI changer that will do all of the above and beat you off at the same time, while whistling the adaggio from Spartacus in Armenian and calculating pi to the pith power in swahili.
    • 2017 March 4, “The non existence of p'th root of any prime number, for (p>2) prime”, in sci.math[3] (Usenet), message-ID <cabe6746-8a13-44f0-9e95-30eec727654a@googlegroups.com>:
      already, we know what is minus one from Euler: it is the I*pith power of e, such that ln(-1) = i*pi


pith (plural piths)

  1. One divided by pi.
    • 1997 April 26, Brian Hutchings, “Re: Trigonometric Functions”, in sci.math[4] (Usenet), message-ID <1997Apr26.204554.24471@lafn.org>:
      not only that, but your "radian" axis can be labelled as *being* in units of pis, as opposed to the redundancy of 0pi, pi/2, pi etc.; conversely, your circumferential measure can be rational (or units) and your radius can be transcendental (or piths .-)
    • 2016 April 1, abu.ku...@gmail.com, “Re: pi^2/6 and 6/pi^2”, in sci.math[5] (Usenet), message-ID <d1d13d13-c4c0-43c3-b4cb-7911dcb24cc7@googlegroups.com>:
      thought it was the two-sixths power of pi, and teh[sic] secondpower of six piths
    • 2017 January 13, thugst...@gmail.com, “pith is at most a third”, in sci.physics[6] (Usenet), message-ID <89a35ff8-1df1-4ab5-baf5-fdc605207710@googlegroups.com>:
      of course, although a pith is less than a third, hence pi is more than three, say, thirty-one tenths, but 22/7 is still less than pi, and that's a rather small gore


Middle English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]


From Old English piþa, from Proto-Germanic *piþô.


  • IPA(key): /ˈpiθ(ə)/, /ˈpið(ə)/, /ˈpeːθ(ə)/


pith (uncountable)

  1. The soft interior portion of something, especially:
    1. (botany) pith (soft substance in the center of a plant's stem)
    2. The pulp (soft innards) of a fruit.
  2. (figurative) The essential or vital part; importance.
  3. (figurative) Power, strength, might.


  • English: pith
  • Scots: pith