tar pit


: an area in which natural bitumens collect and are exposed at the earth's surface and which tends to trap animals and preserve their hard parts (such as bones or teeth)

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Evening fell and the day’s gentle breeze died down, leaving the river as still as a tar pit. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 23 Apr. 2023 The mammoths — which have become an L.A. cultural icon — are seen embedded in a lake pit, which is not an accurate representation of a tar pit. Steven Vargasstaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 26 Jan. 2023 Researchers found this by studying microbial communities in water samples from Trinidad and Tobago's Pitch Lake, the world's largest natural asphalt lake (less prettily, a tar pit). April Reese, Discover Magazine, 7 Aug. 2014 Like mammoths sinking in a tar pit, everyone just seems to be doing their best in a bad situation. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 1 Dec. 2022 But the middle ground has become a tar pit in Washington. David Meyer, Fortune, 23 Mar. 2022 Donald sailed by guard Quinton Spain, who looked as if he were stuck in a tar pit. Los Angeles Times, 13 Feb. 2022 Stagg is usually accompanied by Sapphire and aide-de-camp Java (a super-strong Neanderthal that Stagg found preserved in a tar pit and somehow restored to life, who is also in love with Sapphire). Tribune News Service, cleveland, 2 Jan. 2021 The amoeba shape encroached on the tar pit, which is an active excavation site, and the director of the natural-history museum objected. Dana Goodyear, The New Yorker, 5 Oct. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tar pit.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1839, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tar pit was in 1839

Dictionary Entries Near tar pit

Cite this Entry

“Tar pit.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tar%20pit. Accessed 6 Jun. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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