[ pil ]
See synonyms for pill on Thesaurus.com
  1. a small globular or rounded mass of medicinal substance, usually covered with a hard coating, that is to be swallowed whole.

  2. something unpleasant that has to be accepted or endured: Ingratitude is a bitter pill.

  1. Slang. a tiresomely disagreeable person.

  2. Sports Slang. a ball, especially a baseball or golf ball.

  3. the pill. birth-control pill.

  4. pills, British Slang. billiards.

verb (used with object)
  1. to dose with pills.

  2. to form or make into pills.

  1. Slang. to blackball.

verb (used without object)
  1. to form into small, pill-like balls, as the fuzz on a wool sweater.: Compare depill.

Idioms about pill

  1. Take a chill pill!Disparaging Slang. chill pill (def. 2).

Origin of pill

First recorded in 1375–1425; Middle English pille, from Middle Low German, Middle Dutch pille, Old French pile, from Latin pilula “little ball, globule, pellet,” diminutive of pila “ball”; see -ule

Other definitions for pill (2 of 3)

[ pil ]

verb (used with or without object)
  1. British Dialect. to peel.

  2. Obsolete. to become or cause to become bald.

Origin of pill

First recorded before 1100; Middle English pilen “to rob, steal, plunder,” Old English pilian “to skin, peel,” from Latin pilāre “to pluck, remove (hair or feathers)” see pile3

Other definitions for pill (3 of 3)

[ pil ]

verb (used with object)Archaic.
  1. to rob, plunder, or pillage.

Origin of pill

First recorded in 1150–1200; Middle English pile(n), pille(n), pilie(n), probably conflation of pill2 with Middle French piller, peler (see pillage)

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use pill in a sentence

  • My father pilled him at his club ten years ago; if he put up again, I'd pill him; if he got in, I'd resign.

    Lady Lilith | Stephen McKenna
  • I have known a father pilled for membership of a club and his son go through all right.

    The Awful Australian | Valerie Desmond
  • This has set my mind at ease about you, for it is a serious matter being pilled in such a club.

    The Betrayal of John Fordham | B.L. (Benjamin Leopold) Farjeon
  • Roger, alone, fought three officers in succession; he pilled one, and badly wounded the other two without receiving a scratch.

    Abb Aubain and Mosaics | Prosper Mrime
  • Sam now staggered forward with battered bones and pilled elbows, blowing like a grampus, and cursing like nothing but himself.

British Dictionary definitions for pill (1 of 2)


/ (pɪl) /

  1. a small spherical or ovoid mass of a medicinal substance, intended to be swallowed whole

  2. the pill (sometimes capital) informal an oral contraceptive

  1. something unpleasant that must be endured (esp in the phrase bitter pill to swallow)

  2. slang a ball or disc

  3. a small ball of matted fibres that forms on the surface of a fabric through rubbing

  4. slang an unpleasant or boring person

  1. (tr) to give pills to

  2. (tr) to make pills of

  1. (intr)

    • to form into small balls

    • (of a fabric) to form small balls of fibre on its surface through rubbing

  2. (tr) slang to blackball

Origin of pill

C15: from Middle Flemish pille, from Latin pilula a little ball, from pila ball

British Dictionary definitions for pill (2 of 2)


/ (pɪl) /

  1. archaic, or dialect to peel or skin (something)

  2. archaic to pillage or plunder (a place)

  1. obsolete to make or become bald

Origin of pill

Old English pilian, from Latin pilāre to strip

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with pill


see bitter pill to swallow; sugar the pill.

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.