Main definitions of pill in English

: pill1pill2

pill1

noun

  • 1A small round mass of solid medicine for swallowing whole.

    ‘an overdose of sleeping pills’
    • ‘The patient also may begin trying to take whole pills, one at a time, during this period rather than crushing them.’
    • ‘Need for withdrawal from laxatives, diet pills, or diuretics.’
    • ‘Patients may miss appointments, may not actually swallow the pills, or may deliberately regurgitate the medications.’
    • ‘She had been unable to obtain relief from over-the-counter medications, because she could not swallow pills.’
    • ‘I've been taking garlic pills, magnesium pills, an aspirin a day and vitamin C.’
    • ‘Many have swallowed the bitter pill and tried again, often with salutiferous effects.’
    • ‘Don't leave medicines or pills lying around where children and toddlers can get at them.’
    • ‘Will we become immune to it and eventually need a whole pill to get the same results?’
    • ‘The ability to swallow pills and pay for prescribed medication can also affect the outcome of therapy.’
    • ‘If this is not helpful, your doctor may prescribe stronger steroids or antihistamine pills.’
    • ‘He takes a cup of water and swallows the handful of pills in one gulp.’
    • ‘They may be inhaled or swallowed as a pill or liquid.’
    • ‘He was a very bright, socially sensitive, and insightful young man whose complaint was that he could not swallow pills or capsules.’
    • ‘Your doctor may also ask you if you take any medicines such as birth control pills, laxatives or diet pills.’
    • ‘Most of us swallow our pills with a glass of juice or a swig of water.’
    • ‘Remember that herbal medicines and vitamin pills can also be dangerous if taken if large doses, so store these out of reach too.’
    • ‘Laxatives come as syrups, powders, and also as pills, which are swallowed or put inside the anus.’
    tablet, capsule, caplet, pellet, lozenge, pastille
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1the pill An oral contraceptive in pill form.
      ‘is she on the pill?’
      • ‘These women faced a 60 percent greater risk of getting pregnant while on the pill.’
      • ‘Women who were currently on the birth control pill were expected to be less likely than women who were not on the pill to indicate intentions to use condoms with a new partner in the future.’
      • ‘If you've used condoms only, for instance, you can ask about going on the pill or another hormonal method for contraceptive backup.’
      • ‘It's been almost eight years since I was on the pill.’
      • ‘I was on the pill as well but we decided to use a condom.’
      • ‘And so in some cases we have to put critically endangered species like this on the pill, on some form of contraception because we actually don't want to breed.’
      • ‘According to the clever people in St. Andrew's lab in the UK, women on the pill have different ideals of male sexual attractiveness to those who are not taking the pill.’
      • ‘As well as contraception and other health benefits, there are risks of being on the pill.’
      • ‘That occurs mainly in people who have been on the pill for more than 10 years and who smoke cigarettes.’
      • ‘I went on the pill for the first time a couple of months ago, and since then I've been crying a lot, for no apparent reason.’
      • ‘I could always go into Planned Parenthood, not tell them about my pulmonary embolism, and get back on the pill, but I'm not sure that it would be worth it.’
      • ‘For those of you women who smoke and are not allowed to be on the pill but hate condoms, this seems like a great contraceptive, right?’
      • ‘Pregnant women and those on the pill are at the highest risk of developing deep vein thrombosis on long-distance flights.’
      • ‘Mr Myers claimed the reason the couple stopped was because she told him she was not on the pill.’
      • ‘She was on the pill or at least she had said she was.’
      • ‘She has a four year old child, had a termination two years ago, and is on the pill.’
      • ‘But if she is on the pill and taking antibiotics, the one will lessen the effect of the other.’
      • ‘You can have a contraceptive consultation, so if you are thinking of going on the pill or another form of contraception, you can make an appointment with one of the doctors there.’
      • ‘Some women find this method disconcerting because the period they have each month while on the pill is reassurance that they haven't become pregnant.’
      • ‘This is the largest women's health study ever done and contradicts other research on the pill.’
  • 2dated, informal A tedious or unpleasant person.

  • 3dated, informal (in some sports) a humorous term for a ball.

Phrases

  • a bitter pill (to swallow)

    • An unpleasant or painful necessity (to accept).

      • ‘This is a bitter pill to swallow after we had played so well since the new year, but we will be back.’
      • ‘But it is a bitter pill to swallow for all those who have worked to make the colliery profitable in recent years - without the help of government aid.’
      • ‘Defeat in this game was a bitter pill to swallow for all concerned, players, mentors and supporters because it should not have happened.’
      • ‘Of course, if your finances are already squeezed to the breaking point, the rate hike is a bitter pill to swallow - good for you in the long run, but hard to take right now.’
      • ‘Senator Boswell said while the agreement was a bitter pill to swallow, it was important to remember it did not leave the industry worse off.’
      • ‘Eventually he murmurs ‘It's a bitter pill to swallow.’’
      • ‘This one is - and should be - a bitter pill to swallow.’
      • ‘Cotterill admitted that seeing the game snatched from his side's grasp with extra time looming was a bitter pill to swallow.’
      • ‘‘It is a bitter pill to swallow but it is necessary to cut back and balance the books,’ he said.’
  • sugar (or sweeten) the pill

    • Make an unpleasant or painful necessity more palatable.

      • ‘In many cases airlines will try to find a passenger who is willing to take a later flight, often sweetening the pill with a free upgrade.’
      • ‘An increasing number of dating agencies are sweetening the pill by affecting introductions with clients who share a particular interest, but the biggest innovation for the industry has come with the internet.’
      • ‘The ‘horrible’ truth may taste ‘bad’ but Fischer, like any funny man worth his salt, sweetens the pill.’
      • ‘However, to sugar the pill of change it does have an RHS Award of Garden Merit, is hardy through the British Isles and should be available from garden centres and nurseries.’
      • ‘He makes no attempt to sweeten the pill by positing an upside to emotional politics or strategies designed to boost self-esteem.’
      • ‘As a result, the government took the less politically painful and unprecedented step of delaying the tax rise - sweetening the pill a little.’
      • ‘With no asides and soliloquies, nothing is put in to sweeten the pill.’
      • ‘Brown has always said he is an honest guy, but even mild-mannered Donnelly was irked by Brown continuously sugaring the pill.’
      • ‘Indeed, they magnanimously suggest that the road tax be abolished to sugar the pill.’
      • ‘Opportunities for young people to have practical involvement with history and archaeology, especially the kind that sweetens the pill of prescriptive curriculum schooling, are, I believe, very limited.’

Origin

Late Middle English: ultimately from Latin pilula ‘little ball’, diminutive of pila; compare with Middle Dutch, Middle Low German pille.

Pronunciation

pill

/pɪl/

Main definitions of pill in English

: pill1pill2

pill2

verb

[no object]
  • (of knitted fabric) form small balls of fluff on its surface.

    ‘synthetics can pill but otherwise wear fairly well’
    ‘no matter how carefully you wash them, some sweaters end up pilled and bobbly’
    • ‘When washed, the fleece pilled and changed shape which meant that the garment ‘grew’ as it was worn.’
    • ‘This new fabric treatment enables the garment to resist shrinking, pilling, fading and wrinkles while remaining breathable.’
    • ‘The yarn pilled up a lot, and though it was soft it always looked kind of weird on me so I rarely wore it.’
    • ‘High lanolin content can prevent pilling, but the high-lanolin yarn garments are usually heavy outer-wear.’
    • ‘Fabric made with this tandem-spun yarn doesn't pill, since the core fiber - often a high-tenacity polyester that is prone to cause pilling - is almost completely encased in cotton, which doesn't pill.’
    • ‘Those tiny little felt guys that I made for Amelia just before she was born have been loved a little and have ended up filthy and terribly pilled.’

Origin

1950s: from the noun pill denoting a small ball of fluff, extended sense of pill.

Pronunciation

pill

/pɪl/