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#1 2017-08-26 12:43:31

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 985

'bit of pill' for 'bitter pill' (to swallow)

Many of us might omit the f in ‘bit of pill’ which would sound, to my notoriously unreliable ear, much like ‘bitter pill’. Not a great change in imagery, I agree, but at least you don’t have to swallow the whole thing, and it can be as sweet as you like!

Insurance currently at 1.6 mil is a bit of pill to swallow.

It’s still a bit of pill to swallow even with the Edge of the Mists story content and Angel Mccoy forum post (outside of the game) explanations.

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#2 2017-08-26 16:23:48

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2546

Re: 'bit of pill' for 'bitter pill' (to swallow)

Not sure. These are the only two examples of “bit of pill to swallow” that Google comes up with. And they could both mean “a bit of pill” as a litotes for “a very large pill.”


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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#3 2017-08-29 10:18:37

yanogator
Eggcornista
From: Ohio
Registered: 2007-06-07
Posts: 152

Re: 'bit of pill' for 'bitter pill' (to swallow)

kem wrote:

Not sure. These are the only two examples of “bit of pill to swallow” that Google comes up with. And they could both mean “a bit of pill” as a litotes for “a very large pill.”

But that would more likely be “a bit of a pill”, wouldn’t it?


“I always wanted to be somebody. I should have been more specific.” – Lily Tomlin

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#4 2017-08-29 13:58:08

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2092
Website

Re: 'bit of pill' for 'bitter pill' (to swallow)

“A bitter pill to swallow” in most if not all usages means (a) something disagreeable, likely even painful or damaging (hence “bitter”) which (b) is nevertheless necessary or unavoidable (i.e. it has to be swallowed). The phrase also hints, if it does not assert, that (c ) the pill will (or at least is intended to) do something good for you if you swallow it.
.
Necessity (point b) is usually a relative matter. We call things necessary which actually could be avoided, only the consequences of refusing the pill would be worse than swallowing it. In other words, you swallow the pill because it is better than the alternative, even bitterer pills. The pill, after all, is intended to do you good (point c).
.
So, a bitter pill is also generally (in some, perhaps twisted, sense) a better pill. Sure enough, the phrase shows up:

This was a better pill to swallow for those who thought that it was their mission to do the thinking on behalf of Africans.

my great trouble was caused by the knowledge that I had to spend 5 weeks at one of
the foreign watering places alone, without husband or child, and just at the time of year when our own home was so lovely. It was a better pill to swallow to have my little Winnie only 9 months old – just as she was getting so fascinating in her ways and so fond of me. However it had to be done

According to the report, the income of half of the richest people in the world combined surpassed that of half of the world poor people. ¶ This income disparity revelation was a better pill to swallow. Chief Executive officers and their high bounces were singled out for criticism.

The haughty look I gave the nurse as she walked past me towards the door after her duties were done was one borne from my years of staying at hospitals with Alicia. We hated pity. Pity meant we had lost, that Hades was near. Rather than give her looks of pity, stare at her as if unseeingly. It was a better pill to swallow.

Sometimes the notion “better” is incontrovertibly there:

Thus the people today in pakistan believe secularism was a better pill to swallow than religious extremism

Most ghits seem to be conscious wordplay or repetition of the same (it is used in the much-repeated title of a pokemon episode, for instance), but some are likely true eggcorns.
.
Other cases are not: the meaning has to be bitter and not better, especially when there is no normally conceivable worse option to compare with. Of course, they could well be results of a previous eggcorning, if the perps think this is the normal and correct form of the phrase, even if the semantic motivation for it is no longer there.

FENSTANTON came off second best in a relegation thriller at NCI Cambridge and remain winless and bottom of Division 3B. ¶ It was a better pill to swallow for Fenny, who were powerless to stop their opponents

(What options do you have to being powerless to win in sports? Quitting playing at all, I suppose, but that is not in anybody’s mind. Maybe losing is better than that, but I doubt that was in the author’s mind in describing the situation.)

Harris said the debris out front was a clear indication that this was a recovering area, making the burglary an even more better pill to swallow.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2017-08-30 12:24:16)


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#5 2017-09-18 16:34:05

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2546

Re: 'bit of pill' for 'bitter pill' (to swallow)

But that would more likely be “a bit of a pill”, wouldn’t it?

Maybe. But “pill” could also be thought of as a substance, making it a mass noun that doesn’t have an article.

“Better pill to swallow.” That’s a high-calorie eggcorn, IMHO.


Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.

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