money pit (plural money pits) (idiomatic) A possession or financial commitment that creates substantial ongoing expenses, especially one whose costs are considered to be unsustainable. 1989 March 10, Laurence Iliff, "Parents Poll Hits Closing Of Ramona," The Press-Courier (USA), p. 1 (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011): he district does not want to hold on to the nearly 50-year old school for very much longer, as it has outlived its usefulness and has become a money pit. 1997 Feb. 15, Michael Kimmelman, "An Old Dream For the Arts, A New Chance For the City," New York Times (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011): Critics lambasted the building's design, the art collection and Mr. Hartford, whose gallery became a money pit. Within a year he was nosing around for a partner or buyer. 2007 June 14, Jeff Kluger, "Is the Space Station a Money Pit?," Time: Close to two decades past deadline and now carrying a projected $100 billion price tag, it has not returned a lick of good science — nor is it likely to. (sometimes capitalized) Long-standing nickname of a complicated, seemingly man-made excavation on Oak Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, rumored to contain pirate treasure and which has been repeatedly and unsuccessfully probed at great expense. 1909 May 20, "Is Capt. Kid's Treasure in Chester Basin, N.S.?," St. John Sun (Canada) (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011): In 1896 . . . work was again started with two engines and steam pumps, with the intention of pumping out the "money pit". 1926 June 6, Catherine MacKenzie, "Tide Guards Oak Island's Buried Gold," New York Times, p. SM11: They sank twenty shafts in a ring round the central money pit, and drove tunnels endlessly in the hope of intercepting the underground channel and so draining the treasure shaft. 1947 June 4, "Gigantic Search For Treaure May Move Island," Ottawa Citizen (Canada), p. 29 (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011): Edward Reichert, a New Yorker, was planning "a gigantic project" . . . to move in power excavation equipment to seek the storied "money pit". 1972 Dec. 5, Tom Tiede, "Diggers Keep Seeking Hole Truth of Island's Pirate Treasure Shaft," Milwaukee Journal (USA), p. 1 (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011): The Money Pit shaft rested atop two 500 foot "protection tunnels" which were connected to the bay. 1991 July 15, "Hunting for the Grandddaddy of Pirate Treasures," CNNMoney.com (retrieved 27 Sep. 2011): But the granddaddy of all hoards could be resting at the bottom of a 200- foot shaft on Oak Island, off Nova Scotia. This so-called Money Pit has exercised a moth-to-flame attractive power over investors since it was discovered in 1795.
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