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red pill or redpill

What does red pill mean?

Red pill refers to the truth behind a situation, especially a truth that is difficult to accept.

image of red pill

Where does red pill come from?

Red pill comes from the 1999 cult classic film, The Matrix. There’s a scene early on in the movie in which the main character, Neo, is offered two pills: a red one and a blue one. The red pill represents an awakening, but one that could be difficult and painful. Neo’s world will be changed uncomfortably if he takes the red pill, but he’ll be made aware of the truth of the world. The blue pill represents comfort and security. If he takes the blue pill, he’ll continue to live in blissful ignorance.

The concept has a precedent in the 1990 science fiction film Total Recall. In that film, one character offers another a red pill, which is said to be a symbol of his “desire to return to reality.” There’s no blue pill presented, however.

Red pill and blue pill have become slang for accepting truth even though it’s difficult, or rejecting it to cling to a comfortable falsehood.

A more specialized use of the term describes a loose group of political activities with extremist leanings, particularly men’s rights activists and the alt-right movement. In this case, the name comes from the Reddit community The Red Pill, which was founded around the principle that it is men, rather than women, who are oppressed by society. This premise is considered the red pill of the community, regarded as the truth behind what they see as the myth of feminism.

A few things to note…

Red pill isn’t exclusively used by men’s rights activists or any other group. References to The Matrix can be made by anyone along the political spectrum and predates the rise of the alt-right and men’s rights movements. However, it’s most commonly associated with them thanks to a wave of news coverage, particularly following the election of Donald Trump, who was favored by many of the alt-right. Election coverage brought greater awareness to this use of red pill.

Red pill can be used as a noun, a verb, or an adjective. As a verb or adjective, it’s often spelled redpill. One can refer to a red pill guy, or to redpilling a friend or relative. The terminology is used both inside and outside of the political communities it refers to. Those who disagree with the ideology often use it in a derisive way, and those who agree tend to use it as a marker of belonging.

Red pill is also used by the alt-right movement, a loosely organized white supremacist group that is unified by the belief that political correctness and social justice are tools for attacking white identity and Western civilization. In this case, this set of ideas is the red pill that members are expected to have taken.

For example…

“There was this time this gross red pill guy from my former work got into an argument with me during a social gathering, specifically he was saying that feminism is about women having more than men and I was having none of it”

vanerdsa Tumblr (March 2, 2017)

“Red pill: we are overtaxed, and subjected to big unfair government at every turn. I’ll slash taxes, shrink government, and give you back your freedom.
Blue pill: everything is WONDERFUL.”

Maxime Bernier Facebook (March 6, 2017)

“But what do I know? I'm just a cuck that refuses to swallow the redpill.”

Logan @LunacyHS Twitter (March 13, 2017)

This is not a formal definition of red pill like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of red pill that will help you expand your word mastery.