This is from the Economist (Jan 3, 2015). (You can see the full article here - http://www.economist.com/news/united-states/21637401-what-ceaseless-rows-over-yellowstone-national-park-reveal-about-america-ranchers-v)

Behind that local clash — pitting folk with gun racks on their trucks against those with bike racks, as Mr Farrell puts it — there lurks a still larger suspicion of the federal government.

  • What does "pitting...folk" mean here? And is this expression used frequently?

  • Does 'suspicion' here have different meaning with 'doubt'?

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    It's "pitting", not "fitting." It's not an expression. To pit means "to set in opposition or combat, as one against another." – Daniil Agashiyev Jan 20 '15 at 1:10
  • Thank you. I corrected the error in my question. (fitting -> pitting) – Roo Jan 20 '15 at 1:55
  • This question shows no research. Merriam-Webster pit transitive verb 2b: - to set into opposition or rivalry —usually used with against – FumbleFingers Jan 20 '15 at 3:26

A 'pit' is an arena for combat. More generally, it's a hole in the ground. The idea is that one cannot escape from the pit while in the midst of combat. When animals are fought for sport, they are placed in arenas from which they cannot escape: pits. A 'pit bull' dog carries that type of imagery.

Even today in the US Marine Corps Infantry (and potentially other military groups). Personal disputes can be settled 'in the pit' - in personal, physical combat.

'To pit', then, is to force into the pit for the purposes of combat. 'To pit against' is to force into combat against a certain enemy. In this quotation, hunters (those with gun racks) and recreationists (those with bike racks) are being set in opposition with regards to the use of the national park.


"folk" is just alother word for people. "pitting" here means "to set against" So in your example you are saying "setting those (people/folk) with gun racks against those (people/folk) with bike racks"

  • Welcome to English Language & Usage @Scott. Nice to see you here. Answers are nearly always better when they contain a link or two to sources. In this case a dictionary definition would suffice. Check out OneLook. – andy256 Jan 20 '15 at 7:03

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