from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. a preparation of mercury from which is formed the blue pill.
  • n. See under Blue.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A drug made by rubbing up metallic mercury with confection of roses until all the globules disappear. Of this blue-pills are made.


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  • Shelves in Mrs Albright's sitting-room, where they were handy to get at, held alum, for canker sores; cocoa butter, for the chest; paregoric, for colic and diarrhoea; laudanum, for pain; balsam apples, for poultices; bismuth, for the bowels; magneeshy (carbonate of magnesium), a light, chalky substance, wrapped in blue paper, that was an antacid and a gentle laxative; and calomel and blue mass, regarded by women of Aunt Margery's generation as infallible regulators of the liver. Blue mass came in the form of pills, and she made it by rubbing up metallic mercury with confection of roses.

    —James Thurber, 1952, 'Daguerreotype of a Lady', in The Thurber Album

    July 10, 2008