An article in today’s Boston Globe (available online only to subscribers) quotes a New Hampshire state rep as saying “I had a pit in my stomach” when he saw an inaccurate résumé from a colleague. Ouch! I would have expected something like “I had a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach,” but I guess I haven’t been paying attention. Here’s an interesting article giving all kinds of similar usages from the Times. Language Log recently ran a followup, noticing that Thomas Friedman continues to have a pit in his stomach. The original article connects these two versions of the cliché with the competition between “hone in on” and “home in on,” which I certainly have noticed.
Here’s the Google ngram for “pit in my stomach,” which shows that the usage has been taking off starting around 1990 (although it’s still relatively rare compared to the much older “pit of my stomach”).
As the article in Language Log says, the newer usage is not obviously less plausible than the older usage — we’re just more familiar with “pit of my stomach”. So who am I to complain? Still, “pit in my stomach” gives me a bad feeling . . . somewhere or other.