mid-14c., "hollow place under the shoulder," from arm (n.1) + pit (n.1). Arm-hole (early 14c.) was used in this sense but was obsolete by 18c. Another Middle English word was asselle (early 15c.), from Old French asselle, from Latin axilla. Colloquial armpit of the nation for any locale regarded as ugly and disgusting was in use by 1965.
Entries linking to armpit
"upper limb of the human body," Old English earm, from Proto-Germanic *armaz (source also of Old Saxon, Danish, Swedish, Middle Dutch, German arm, Old Norse armr, Old Frisian erm), from PIE root *ar- "to fit together" (source also of Sanskrit irmah "arm," Greek arthron "a joint," Latin armus "shoulder"). Arm of the sea was in Old English. Arm-twister "powerful persuader" is from 1915. Arm-wrestling is from 1899.
They wenten arme in arme yfere Into the gardyn [Chaucer]
Old English pytt (Kentish *pet), "natural or man-made depression in the ground, water hole, well; grave," from Proto-Germanic *putt- "pool, puddle" (source also of Old Frisian pet, Old Saxon putti, Old Norse pyttr, Middle Dutch putte, Dutch put, Old High German pfuzza, German Pfütze "pool, puddle"), an early borrowing from Latin puteus "well, pit, shaft."
The Latin word is perhaps from PIE root *pau- (2) "to cut, strike, stamp," but there are phonetic and sense objections.
Short u makes it impossible to directly derive puteus from paviō 'to strike'. It might be related to putāre 'to prune', but this is semantically less attractive, and the suffix -eus can then hardly be interpreted as indicating a material. Therefore, puteus may well be a loanword. [de Vaan]
Meaning "abode of evil spirits, hell" is attested from late 12c. Meaning "very small depression or dent in the surface of an object" is from early 15c. The anatomical sense of "natural depression or hollow in some part of the body" is by late 13c,; the pit of the stomach (1650s) is so called from the slight depression there between the ribs; earlier words for it were breast-pit (late 14c.), heart-pit (c. 1300).
The meaning "part of a theater on the floor of the house, lower than the stage," is from 1640s; the sense of "that part of the floor of an exchange where business is carried on" is by 1903, American English. The pit dug under a large engine or other piece of machinery to allow workers to examine or repair it is attested by 1839; this later was extended in auto racing to "area at the side of a track where cars are serviced and repaired" (by 1912).
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they were up to their armpits in water