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#1 2016-10-24 12:29:52

dantemortem
Member
Registered: 2016-10-24
Posts: 3

"pitch white"

I had a friend who used to use the term “pitch white” to mean very, very white. I tried to explain that pitch was black and that’s why we say “pitch black” but she rejected that and said it was more like the highest pitch or pitch perfect (which are quite different usages of the word pitch).

I googled “pitch white” and indeed see it in a few product descriptions.

But why only white and black, in that case, why not pitch red or pitch yellow?

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#2 2016-10-24 13:49:40

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 1104

Re: "pitch white"

It’s great to have an almost first-person account. Yours provides nice evidence for the reasoning behind the eggcorn. Pitch white was mentioned as an aside in a post on pits for pitch. Otherwise, I only checked was pitch blue, but there appeared to be 21 genuine hits for it today.

Pitch white reminds me of the possibility that hair can be jet blonde.

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#3 2016-10-25 17:10:01

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2171
Website

Re: "pitch white"

A friend: “her hair turned white as coal, I kid you not!”
.
(Pretty much anything meaning “extremely” will be used with that meaning in combination with any other term on the semantic playing field, even when it ought to mean the opposite.)
.
I am diametrically in favor of that sort of thing. (I just do a 360 and get out of there.)

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2016-10-25 17:13:54)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#4 2016-10-28 13:49:57

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2617

Re: "pitch white"

I suspect that “pitch” takes on the same role as “jet” (which we discussed here )—i.e., as a generic intensifier.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#5 2016-10-29 15:48:42

dantemortem
Member
Registered: 2016-10-24
Posts: 3

Re: "pitch white"

I should have mentioned that my friend, while speaking English fluently, had Italian parents who did not speak English very well. I suspect that may have been a factor. She also used the expression “cool, calm, and collective” as did another Italian friend (they did not know one another). I found it odd that they had both encountered that expression in any form.

I was unaware of the use of “jet” as a superlative. Very interesting, I would not have thought of that. But it seems to follow the same logic. People would not say “snow white” and “snow red” as it is much clearer what is meant. But these days jet and pitch are not commonly encountered items.

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#6 2016-11-30 20:26:46

Eoin
Member
Registered: 2006-04-11
Posts: 26

Re: "pitch white"

As any griller or thurifer knows, coals have to be white before they’re ready for food or incense.

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#7 2016-12-05 18:01:49

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1295

Re: "pitch white"

dantemortem wrote:

I had a friend who used to use the term “pitch white” to mean very, very white. I tried to explain that pitch was black and that’s why we say “pitch black” but she rejected that and said it was more like the highest pitch or pitch perfect (which are quite different usages of the word pitch).

The American Heritage Dictionary defines the common phrase “pitched battle” thusly:
“1. An intense battle fought in close contact by troops arranged in a predetermined formation.
2. A fiercely waged battle or struggle between opposing forces.”
This implication of intensity in the term “pitched” in a common phrase is, IMHO, sufficient to account for “pitch” = “intense” or “very, very”.

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#8 2016-12-23 23:33:59

ElizaLynne
Member
Registered: 2016-12-14
Posts: 5

Re: "pitch white"

My child (aged 7) used this, too (pitch blue, I think it was). Having no idea what pitch was, they just understood it to be an intensifier.

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#9 2017-01-02 13:58:05

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2617

Re: "pitch white"

A surprising variety of words can take up a role as an English intensifiers (adjectives and adverbs that raise the stakes on the words they modify). Besides the overworked “very” (raised to new heights by Donald Trump ), we have “wicked,” “awful,” “helluva,” “bloody,” etc.

Last edited by kem (2017-01-02 13:58:44)


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#10 2017-01-02 19:25:05

Dixon Wragg
Eggcornista
From: Cotati, California
Registered: 2008-07-04
Posts: 1295

Re: "pitch white"

kem wrote:

A surprising variety of words can take up a role as an English intensifiers (adjectives and adverbs that raise the stakes on the words they modify). Besides the overworked “very” (raised to new heights by Donald Trump ), we have “wicked,” “awful,” “helluva,” “bloody,” etc.

Quite common lately is the one I really hate: the misuse of “literally” as an intensifier, as in “We literally laughed our heads off”, etc. ad nauseam. This has been mentioned a few times in the Eggcorn Forum, such as here.

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