from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A small pellet or tablet of medicine, often coated, taken by swallowing whole or by chewing.
  • n. Informal An oral contraceptive. Used with the.
  • n. Slang Something, such as a baseball, that resembles a pellet of medicine.
  • n. Something both distasteful and necessary.
  • n. Slang An insipid or ill-natured person.
  • transitive v. To dose with pills.
  • transitive v. To make into pills.
  • transitive v. Slang To blackball.
  • intransitive v. To form small balls resembling pills: a sweater that pills.
  • intransitive v. Chiefly British To come off, as in flakes or scales.
  • transitive v. Archaic To subject to extortion.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A small, usually cylindrical object designed for easy swallowing, usually containing some sort of medication.
  • n. Contraceptive medication, usually in the form of a pill.
  • n. A comical or entertaining person.
  • n. A contemptible, annoying, or unpleasant person.
  • n. A small piece of any substance, for example a ball of fibres formed on the surface of a textile by rubbing.
  • n. A baseball.
  • n. (informal) a bullet (projectile)
  • v. Of a woven fabric surface, to form small matted balls of fiber.
  • v. To form into the shape of a pill.
  • v. To medicate with pills.
  • n. An inlet on the coast; a small tidal pool or bay.
  • v. To peel; to remove the outer layer of hair, skin, or bark.
  • v. To pillage; to despoil or impoverish.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The peel or skin.
  • n. A medicine in the form of a little ball, or small round mass, to be swallowed whole.
  • n. Figuratively, something offensive or nauseous which must be accepted or endured.
  • v. To rob; to plunder; to pillage; to peel. See peel, to plunder.
  • intransitive v. To be peeled; to peel off in flakes.
  • transitive v. To deprive of hair; to make bald.
  • transitive v. To peel; to make by removing the skin.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To rob; plunder; pillage.
  • To rob; practise robbery; plunder.
  • To deprive of hair; make bald. Compare pilled.
  • To peel; strip; form by stripping off the skin or bark.
  • To peel; come off in flakes.
  • To form into pills.
  • To dose with pills.
  • To reject by vote; blackball.
  • n. Peel; skin; rind; outer covering.
  • n. The refuse of a hawk's prey.
  • n. A globular or ovoid mass of medicinal substance, of a size convenient for swallowing.
  • n. Hence Something unpleasant that has to be accepted or (metaphorically) swallowed: usually qualified by bitter.
  • n. A disagreeable or objectionable person.
  • n. plural A doctor or surgeon.
  • n. In varnish-making, the cooked mass of linseed-oil and gum before turpentine is added to thin it down and complete the varnish.
  • n. A small creek; one of the channels through which the drainings of a marsh enter a river.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. something that resembles a tablet of medicine in shape or size
  • n. something unpleasant or offensive that must be tolerated or endured
  • n. a contraceptive in the form of a pill containing estrogen and progestin to inhibit ovulation and so prevent conception
  • n. a unpleasant or tiresome person
  • n. a dose of medicine in the form of a small pellet


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

Middle English pille, from Middle Dutch or Middle Low German pille and Old French pile, all from Latin pilula, diminutive of pila, ball.
Middle English pillen, to plunder, peel, from Old English pilian; see peel1 and from Old French piller, to plunder; see pillage.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle Low German or Middle Dutch pille (whence Dutch pil), probably from Latin pilula.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin pilō ("depilate"), from pilus ("hair").

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English *pill, *pyll, from Old English pyll ("a pool, pill"), from Proto-Germanic *pullijaz (“small pool, ditch, creek”), diminutive of Proto-Germanic *pullaz (“pool, stream”), from Proto-Indo-European *bale- (“bog, marsh”). Cognate with Old English pull ("pool, creek"), Scots poll ("slow moving stream, creek, inlet"), Icelandic pollur ("pond, pool, puddle"). More at pool.


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  • also v.t. (dial. and obs.) peel.

    then take 3 hazel stickes or wands of a year groth, pill them fair and white

    —Bodleian MS Ashmole 1406, quoted in Diane Purkiss, 2000, Troublesome Things

    July 21, 2008