In episode 9 of The Wonder Years, it's Christmas time. The children are sulking because their father didn't want to buy them a color TV. It has not been a good day for the family. Only Norma is not boring (or seems so). In some point, the narrator says:

NARRATOR: That night, all the seams were showing. Only Mom [Norma] was in there pitching like a lone fireman at a five-alarm blaze.

NORMA: Eggnog, anyone? Lydia Herschmuller just called. To remind us about the carolling party tonight. I told her we’d be there with bells on!

I guess the narrator wanted to show that Norma was being resilient and was trying to cheer them up. But I couldn't find a appropriate synonymous for "pitching" in the sentence above. Could someone help me? Thanks in advance!

  • 1
    Your English dictionary provides several meanings for the verb pitch. Did none of them seem appropriate? When you say you couldn't find a synonym, what do you mean? Sometimes, dictionaries don't provide an exact example of the usage you are looking for, and then you have to think about all the meanings and examples. – P. E. Dant Jul 16 '17 at 21:52
  • Well, in fact, I have been using at least 4 online dictionaries. But the one you use to answer seems to be more thorough than at least 3 of them. Could you mention it, please? – rgm Jul 16 '17 at 22:00
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    Andrew uses Merriam-Webster in his answer below, but a good starting point is the OneLook aggregator. This provides links to a score of dictionaries on one page. – P. E. Dant Jul 16 '17 at 22:03

See this definition:

to pitch (transitive verb): (3)
a : to present or advertise especially in a high-pressure way : plug, promote
b : to attempt to persuade especially with a sales pitch

and this:

to pitch in (intransitive verb): (2) to contribute to a common endeavor

Your example is kind of a mix of both of these definitions. The mother is trying to pitch the idea that the family should be celebrating, and she is also pitching in to the effort to cheer them up, with great (but possibly futile) enthusiasm.

Side note: A "five-alarm blaze" is a scale of the severity of a fire, from one to five, with five being the worst. I don't know if modern fire companies still use this scale, but the analogy implies that a lone fireman has little hope of putting out this large a fire (but she's still trying).

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