red pill

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From a scene in the 1999 film The Matrix, where the main character, who lives in a virtual world known as the Matrix, is given a choice between a red pill that will allow him to learn the truth about the Matrix, and a blue pill that will return him to his simulated life.


red pill (plural red pills)

  1. Something that enables or compels a person to overcome illusion and perceive harsher reality.
    • 2011, Stephen Arterburn & ‎Linda Mintle, Lose It for Life: The Total Solution, →ISBN, page 49:
      Do you want to continue to live in the false world of dieting, where emotional pain is numbed, health risks are ignored, and false promises are made? Or do you want to take the red pill, as it were, and see the reality of a world in which food and eating don't dominate or take over your life?
    • 2012, Yanis Varoufakis, ‎Joseph Halevi, & ‎Nicholas Theocarakis, Modern Political Economics: Making Sense of the Post-2008 World, →ISBN:
      We can offer ourselves the option of taking the red pill and, when the circumstances are right, we shall not be able to resist the lure of the naked truth; however hard it may be to stare it in the face.
    • 2013, John C Alessio, Social Problems and Inequality, →ISBN:
      Until the media and economy are democratically structured and regulated, the best people can do is take the red pill -- that is, utilize the alternative media for information and thereby purge their neurological systems of large misleading segments of their past education and the mainstream popular media.
    • 2013, David Mint, What is Money? A Quest to Answer the Question of the Ages:
      As you choke down the red pill, we will begin to expound on that eternally important question that few people have bothered to ask, save once, likely around the tender age of four [...] the eternally important question, "What is money?"
    • For more examples of usage of this term, see Citations:red pill.
  2. Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see red,‎ pill.

Derived terms[edit]

Usage notes[edit]

More recent usage is increasingly associated with Western far-right identity politics, and the process of white supremacist/alt-right recruitment.[1]

Further reading[edit]


  1. ^ Andrew Marantz (2016-10-31), “Trolls for Trump”, in The New Yorker[1], retrieved December 1, 2017:
    There is a lot of discussion in certain parts of the Internet about “red-pill moments.” [] “Red pill” is good branding—it’s cowardly to live a lie. On many message boards, though, the lie being dismantled is gender equality.