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.’
    • ‘They may be inhaled or swallowed as a pill or liquid.’
    • ‘Most of us swallow our pills with a glass of juice or a swig of water.’
    • ‘The ability to swallow pills and pay for prescribed medication can also affect the outcome of therapy.’
    • ‘He was a very bright, socially sensitive, and insightful young man whose complaint was that he could not swallow pills or capsules.’
    • ‘Many have swallowed the bitter pill and tried again, often with salutiferous effects.’
    • ‘Remember that herbal medicines and vitamin pills can also be dangerous if taken if large doses, so store these out of reach too.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Patients may miss appointments, may not actually swallow the pills, or may deliberately regurgitate the medications.’
    • ‘Don't leave medicines or pills lying around where children and toddlers can get at them.’
    • ‘Laxatives come as syrups, powders, and also as pills, which are swallowed or put inside the anus.’
    • ‘Will we become immune to it and eventually need a whole pill to get the same results?’
    • ‘He takes a cup of water and swallows the handful of pills in one gulp.’
    • ‘Your doctor may also ask you if you take any medicines such as birth control pills, laxatives or diet pills.’
    • ‘Need for withdrawal from laxatives, diet pills, or diuretics.’
    • ‘If this is not helpful, your doctor may prescribe stronger steroids or antihistamine pills.’
    tablet, capsule, caplet, pellet, lozenge, pastille
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1the pill An oral contraceptive in pill form.
      ‘is she on the pill?’
      • ‘But if she is on the pill and taking antibiotics, the one will lessen the effect of the other.’
      • ‘Mr Myers claimed the reason the couple stopped was because she told him she was not on the pill.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If you've used condoms only, for instance, you can ask about going on the pill or another hormonal method for contraceptive backup.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She was on the pill or at least she had said she was.’
      • ‘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?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As well as contraception and other health benefits, there are risks of being on the pill.’
      • ‘This is the largest women's health study ever done and contradicts other research on the pill.’
      • ‘That occurs mainly in people who have been on the pill for more than 10 years and who smoke cigarettes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘She has a four year old child, had a termination two years ago, and is on the pill.’
      • ‘Pregnant women and those on the pill are at the highest risk of developing deep vein thrombosis on long-distance flights.’
      • ‘These women faced a 60 percent greater risk of getting pregnant while on the pill.’
      • ‘It's been almost eight years since I was on the pill.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I was on the pill as well but we decided to use a condom.’
      • ‘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.’
  • 2informal, dated A tedious or unpleasant person.

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

Phrases

  • a bitter pill (to swallow)

    • An unpleasant or painful necessity (to accept).

      • ‘‘It is a bitter pill to swallow but it is necessary to cut back and balance the books,’ he said.’
      • ‘This one is - and should be - a bitter pill to swallow.’
      • ‘Eventually he murmurs ‘It's a bitter pill to swallow.’’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Cotterill admitted that seeing the game snatched from his side's grasp with extra time looming was a bitter pill to swallow.’
      • ‘Defeat in this game was a bitter pill to swallow for all concerned, players, mentors and supporters because it should not have happened.’
      • ‘This is a bitter pill to swallow after we had played so well since the new year, but we will be back.’
  • sugar (or sweeten) the pill

    • Make an unpleasant or painful necessity more palatable.

      • ‘As a result, the government took the less politically painful and unprecedented step of delaying the tax rise - sweetening the pill a little.’
      • ‘Brown has always said he is an honest guy, but even mild-mannered Donnelly was irked by Brown continuously sugaring the pill.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Indeed, they magnanimously suggest that the road tax be abolished to sugar the pill.’
      • ‘He makes no attempt to sweeten the pill by positing an upside to emotional politics or strategies designed to boost self-esteem.’
      • ‘With no asides and soliloquies, nothing is put in to sweeten the pill.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’

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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘High lanolin content can prevent pilling, but the high-lanolin yarn garments are usually heavy outer-wear.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘When washed, the fleece pilled and changed shape which meant that the garment ‘grew’ as it was worn.’
    • ‘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.’

Origin

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

Pronunciation

pill

/pɪl/