pit·​fall | \ ˈpit-ˌfȯl How to pronounce pitfall (audio) \

Definition of pitfall

1 : trap, snare specifically : a pit flimsily covered or camouflaged and used to capture and hold animals or men
2 : a hidden or not easily recognized danger or difficulty

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Examples of pitfall in a Sentence

buying a house can be full of pitfalls for the unwary one of the pitfalls of ignorance is that people will also assume you're stupid

Recent Examples on the Web

The increase in passive fund duration is largely owed to a structural pitfall that’s baked into bond indexes. Asjylyn Loder, WSJ, "Unlike Stock Pickers, Active Bond Managers Are Beating the Market," 1 Nov. 2018 Rather than being a pitfall to painting, the imaginative leaps that homeless representation triggers give Bradford’s art its kick and resonance. David Pagel, latimes.com, "'Mark Bradford: New Works' at Hauser & Wirth," 24 Mar. 2018 Second, China has cannily avoided such pitfalls by being far more judicious in its tariff strategy. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Trump Thinks He Is Winning the Trade War. The Data Tell a Different Story," 16 Aug. 2019 The good news is that there are ways to avoid these potentially catastrophic pitfalls. Peter Dawson, Houston Chronicle, "Several Texas wildfires sparked by misused equipment, according to Texas A&M Forest Service," 13 Aug. 2019 But Trump mostly avoided the pitfalls that ethics experts had warned about, by not trashing his 2020 election political opponents or talking about his reelection bid. Heather Timmons, Quartz, "US taxpayers funded this epic Trump 2020 campaign ad," 5 July 2019 Lately there’s a strange caution in the air about the intellectual pitfalls of comparing American politics to the performing arts — or worse, to showbiz. Washington Post, "Can we get past the idea that politics is a reality show? Not if CNN has anything to do with it.," 2 Aug. 2019 Waxman perfectly calibrates Nina’s quirkiness and anxieties, managing to sidestep any of the pitfalls of the manic pixie dream girl trope that can plague fictional women of this ilk. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "Hot Stuff: July romances offer 'knotty' self-discovery," 30 July 2019 However, Paytm is well aware of the pitfalls of overly relying on discounting, especially with educational services. Sangeeta Tanwar, Quartz India, "Behind Paytm’s grand plan to become a one-stop shop for educational services in India," 15 July 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'pitfall.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of pitfall

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Dictionary Entries near pitfall





pit field

pit game

pit game fowl

Statistics for pitfall

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for pitfall

The first known use of pitfall was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for pitfall



English Language Learners Definition of pitfall

: a danger or problem that is hidden or not obvious at first


pit·​fall | \ ˈpit-ˌfȯl How to pronounce pitfall (audio) \

Kids Definition of pitfall

1 : a covered or camouflaged pit used to capture animals or people
2 : a danger or difficulty that is hidden or is not easily recognized He soon learned the pitfalls of publishing.

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More from Merriam-Webster on pitfall

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with pitfall

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for pitfall

Spanish Central: Translation of pitfall

Nglish: Translation of pitfall for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of pitfall for Arabic Speakers

Comments on pitfall

What made you want to look up pitfall? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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