I am reading a story from a Mexican book called La cucaracha comelona.

I encountered the phrase "se receta la muy pilla" but I can't nail down what this means.


La cucaracha tanto comió, que una indigestión le dio. Pero un té de manzanilla se receta la muy pilla.

Researching, the verb "recetar" means to prescribe. I did not find a reflexive form recetarse. So I think maybe it's the passive voice "he was prescribed the tea"(but we don't know who prescribed it to him). Am I correct in this assumption?

"Pillar" means to catch or get. Firstly I fail to see the meaning this word adds to the phrase. Secondly "pillar" is not an adjective or adverb so the use of muy confuses me here as well.

Also what does "comelona" mean? I can not find a translation anywhere.

  • 1
    pillo/pilla means astuto/astuta [bold, clever, crafty] in Chile, and I can see in Mexico too, so probably in many other Latinamerican countries also does it... Jul 1, 2020 at 10:07

1 Answer 1


I think this is not a passive se as such, but rather a reflexive se. Most transitive verbs can be made reflexive in this manner, so there is no need to list a specific pronomial form in the dictionary. So "it prescribes itself a chamomile tea."

In this case, "pilla" looks like a nominalized adjective. Just as "el malo" = "the bad man" (i.e. "the villain"; "el malo del cuento"), "la pilla" is "the rascal" since "pilla/o" means "rascally." "La muy pilla" intensifies it ("the great rascal"), but in context I would say it might convey almost a humorous tone, like "the little rascal." So, putting it together:

But the little rascal prescribes itself a chamomile tea.

Further, "comelona" means someone who eats a great deal. The male form is "comelón", and in some countries people say "comilón" and "comilona" instead.

  • @Leo why "her"? A cockroach is normally referred to as "it". Unless there is some context in that book that I do not know...
    – wimi
    Jun 26, 2020 at 7:40
  • la muy pilla refers back to la cucaracha, which is feminine. Jun 26, 2020 at 9:20
  • @WalterMitty - Claro que sí, pero en inglés se les refiere a los animales como "it", si su género no se especifica de antemano. Pues el término la cucaracha se refiere tanto a las hembras como a los machos, no se sabe el sexo del bicho.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jun 26, 2020 at 10:32
  • Claro. Hablamosde género liguistico. Jun 26, 2020 at 15:30

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