adjective, sick·er, sick·est.
  1. afflicted with ill health or disease; ailing.
  2. affected with nausea; inclined to vomit.
  3. deeply affected with some unpleasant feeling, as of sorrow, disgust, or boredom: sick at heart; to be sick of parties.
  4. mentally, morally, or emotionally deranged, corrupt, or unsound: a sick mind; wild statements that made him seem sick.
  5. characteristic of a sick mind: sick fancies.
  6. dwelling on or obsessed with that which is gruesome, sadistic, ghoulish, or the like; morbid: a sick comedian; sick jokes.
  7. of, relating to, or for use during sickness: He applied for sick benefits.
  8. accompanied by or suggestive of sickness; sickly: a sick pallor; the sick smell of disinfectant in the corridors.
  9. disgusted; chagrined.
  10. not in proper condition; impaired.
  11. Slang. great; amazing: The plot is boring but the special effects are sick!
  12. Agriculture.
    1. failing to sustain adequate harvests of some crop, usually specified: a wheat-sick soil.
    2. containing harmful microorganisms: a sick field.
  13. Now Rare. menstruating.
  1. (used with a plural verb) sick persons collectively (usually preceded by the).
  1. call in sick, to notify one's place of employment by telephone that one will be absent from work because of being ill.
  2. sick and tired, utterly weary; fed up: I'm sick and tired of working so hard!
  3. sick at one's stomach, Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. nauseated.
  4. sick to one's stomach, Chiefly Northern, North Midland, and Western U.S. nauseated.

Origin of sick

before 900; Middle English sik, sek, Old English sēoc; cognate with Dutch ziek, German siech, Old Norse sjūkr, Gothic siuks

Synonyms for sick

1. infirm, indisposed. See ill. 2. nauseous, nauseated.

Antonyms for sick Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for call in sick


  1. inclined or likely to vomit
    1. suffering from ill health
    2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the sick
    1. of, relating to, or used by people who are unwellsick benefits
    2. (in combination)sickroom
  2. deeply affected with a mental or spiritual feeling akin to physical sicknesssick at heart
  3. mentally, psychologically, or spiritually disturbed
  4. informal delighting in or catering for the macabre or sadistic; morbidsick humour
  5. Also: sick and tired (often foll by of) informal disgusted or weary, esp because satiatedI am sick of his everlasting laughter
  6. (often foll by for) weary with longing; piningI am sick for my own country
  7. pallid or sickly
  8. not in working order
  9. (of land) unfit for the adequate production of certain crops
  10. look sick slang to be outclassed
noun, verb
  1. an informal word for vomit
See also sick-out
Derived Formssickish, adjective

Word Origin for sick

Old English sēoc; related to Old Norse skjūkr, Gothic siuks, Old High German sioh


  1. a variant spelling of sic 2
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for call in sick



"to chase, set upon" (as in command sick him!), 1845, dialectal variant of seek. Used as an imperative to incite a dog to attack a person or animal; hence "cause to pursue." Related: Sicked; sicking.



"unwell," Old English seoc "ill, diseased, feeble, weak; corrupt; sad, troubled, deeply affected," from Proto-Germanic *seukaz, of uncertain origin. The general Germanic word (cf. Old Norse sjukr, Danish syg, Old Saxon siok, Old Frisian siak, Middle Dutch siec, Dutch ziek, Old High German sioh, Gothic siuks "sick, ill"), but in German and Dutch displaced by krank "weak, slim," probably originally with a sense of "twisted, bent" (see crank (n.)).

Restricted meaning "having an inclination to vomit, affected with nausea" is from 1610s; sense of "tired or weary (of something), disgusted from satiety" is from 1590s; phrase sick and tired of is attested from 1783. Meaning "mentally twisted" in modern colloquial use is from 1955, a revival of the word in this sense from 1550s (sense of "spiritually or morally corrupt" was in Old English, which also had seocmod "infirm of mind"); sick joke is from 1958.



"those who are sick," Old English seoce, from sick (adj).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

call in sick in Medicine


  1. Suffering from or affected with a disease or disorder.
  2. Of or for sick persons.
  3. Nauseated.
  4. Mentally ill or disturbed.
  5. Constituting an unhealthy environment for those working or residing within, as of a building.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with call in sick

call in sick

Telephone one's employer or school that one is ill and cannot come to work or attend. For example, Ben called in sick and told his boss he would miss the meeting. [Mid-1900s]


In addition to the idioms beginning with sick

  • sick and tired
  • sick as a dog
  • sick at heart
  • sick in bed
  • sick joke
  • sick to one's stomach

also see:

  • call in sick
  • get sick
  • make one sick
  • worried sick
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.