But that pit in the stomach comes from knowing that while the protests are propelled by deep aspirations for dignity, justice and self-determination, such heroic emotions have to compete with other less noble impulses and embedded interests in these societies.
It gave me a jolt to see such a famous and mature writer using the mangled expression “pit in the stomach.” Looks like it’s getting established.
I started to add my thoughts on this expression to the discussion reacting to his column and found that someone else already had cited my entry on the subject:
New York City
"To observe the democratic awakenings happening in places like Egypt, Syria and Russia is to travel with a glow in your heart and a pit in your stomach."
Just as you can love someone from the bottom of your heart, you can also experience a sensation of dread in the pit (bottom) of your stomach. I don’t know whether people who mangle this common expression into “pit in my stomach” envision an ulcer, an irritating peach pit they’ve swallowed or are thinking of the pyloric sphincter; but they’ve got it wrong.
Paul Brians, Common Errors in English Usage