a bitter pill to swallow

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a bitter pill to swallow

An unwanted or unpleasant situation that someone is forced to accept. A pronoun for the person in such a situation can be mentioned between "pill" and "to," as in "a bitter pill for her to swallow." When Brett's parents stopped giving him money to pay his bills and told him to get a job, it was a bitter pill for him to swallow. Getting a poor performance review was a bitter pill to swallow, but it made me a better worker.
See also: bitter, pill, swallow
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

bitter pill to swallow

Fig. an unpleasant fact that has to be accepted. (Does not involve pills or swallowing.) It was a bitter pill for her brother to swallow when she married his enemy. We found his deception a bitter pill to swallow.
See also: bitter, pill, swallow
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

bitter pill to swallow

An unpleasant fact, disappointment, or humiliation that is difficult to endure. For example, Failing the bar exam was a bitter pill to swallow, but he plans to try again next year . [Late 1500s]
See also: bitter, pill, swallow
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

a bitter pill to swallow

or

a bitter pill

COMMON If a fact or a situation is a bitter pill to swallow or a bitter pill, it is difficult or unpleasant to accept. Their chief executive said the failure to win the contract was a bitter pill to swallow. I'm not going to tell you this is not a bitter pill for the armed forces, because clearly it is. Note: You can say that someone swallows a bitter pill if they have to accept something difficult or unpleasant. Our people have swallowed a bitter pill in accepting this peace agreement.
See also: bitter, pill, swallow
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012
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References in periodicals archive ?
He said: "Last year's defeat in the Ulster final was a bitter pill for us to swallow.
"It was a bitter pill for us to swallow, having spent 13 years from discovery to concept, and going through all those days and things that we did when everyone told us we couldn't do it, and then finally achieving it," Burzynski said.
"It is a bitter pill for us to swallow because I thought we were going to win and nobody has done that down here for a year."
"It was a bitter pill for us to swallow, but we did," said Con-gresswoman Nancy Pelosi.
The defeat to England was a bitter pill for us to swallow and seeing the smiling faces of the English players after the game was hard to take.
Schalke coach Mirko Slomka added at the time: "It's a bitter pill for us to swallow.
This defeat is a bitter pill for us to swallow, but maybe a loss like this is needed during a season.'
"So to lose was such a bitter pill for us to swallow. To say we're shattered is an understatement.
It would be a bitter pill for us to swallow if we lost out after winning nine and drawing three of our last 13 games."