The phrase: "You're a Pill!" Heard it? Used it?

“You’re a Pill!” “He’s a pill!” “Don’t be such a pill!”

These were common phrases my grandparents aimed at us young 'uns, many ages ago.

Of course, I now realize that “pill” readily translates into “pain in the ass”, only in a more light-hearted way.

So, are you familiar with the phrase? What did it mean for you? Do you use it yourself?

I kinda miss the phrase. I used it on my kids only infrequently, and I doubt they even noticed as a result. If they give me grandkids, I’ll definitely use it on them!

I use it, but not to mean “pain in the ass.” To me, a pill is more of a wet blanket. Or just a no-fun kind of person.

I use it. Not very often but I use it. And a pill is clearly a grumpy person.

I believe the phrase comes from the old expression “You’re a tough pill to swallow.” apparently back in the old days (which old days I’m not sure) pills were made out of different stuff than they are these days. These old timey pills were, presumably, harder to swallow and digest than the modern days. Thus pills that were unpleasant to ingest became synonymous with things that were annoying.

I don’t really use it–just never thought about it, but I recognize it as someone who’s annoying or irritating or just plain no fun.

Yup – but agree it means party-pooper, wet blanket, not annoyance.

And though I have a vague recollection of having said it c. 1972, I voted for “not a word I use.”

I’ve read it in books, but I’ve never heard it said and I wouldn’t use it myself.

I think the first time I heard it was in this movie (the line is featured in the trailer), and while I’ve heard it in others, I’ve never heard it used in real life.

Ditto. This is what my mom means when she uses it.

It’s the kind of thing my mom says.

I used it yesterday to describe one of our bitchy, resentful cats. I’m 37.

My parents use this phrase. I do not. When someone is being a pain in the ass, I just call 'em “a pain in the ass.” :smiley:

Mom used this to mean someone who was being extremely irritating and annoying. Like kids who complain about doing chores.

My mom would use it occasionally when we were being silly. I never had the sense that it was as negative as other posters here describe.

I’ve read it, but never used it. IIRC, it was in the book “2000 Insults for all Occasions” written in late 60’s to early 70s, but I think Henny Youngman may have used it in the 40s. By the context, it meant PITA, and it appeared to be pretty archaic in the 60s.


Can it, you nit!

I’ve heard “You’re a pillock!” but not “You’re a pill!”

My parents and grandparents used it. It meant being grouchy or mean-spirited, not annoying.

It’s one of those expressions I’ve read in books but never used.

The other day I told my boyfriend, “You think you’re such a card, don’t you?” and he said I sounded like a grandma. :smiley:

I’ve used it to describe my kids before. Not directly at them “you are a pill” but, for example, dropping the oldest off with his dad’s family for the night “he’s been kind of a pill today so I hope he cheers up for you” or to a teacher “He was a real pill last night and we talked about attitudes; I hope you don’t have any trouble today!”

I use it just like “pain in the ass” except I can’t call my kids pains in the ass so I say “pill”.