causing or capable of causing sickness, especially nausea, disgust, or loathing: sickening arrogance.

Origin of sickening

First recorded in 1715–25; sicken + -ing2
Related formssick·en·ing·ly, adverb

Synonyms for sickening



verb (used with or without object)

to make or become sick.

Origin of sicken

1150–1200; Middle English seknen, sicnen; cognate with Old Norse sjūkna. See sick1, -en1
Related formsre·sick·en, verbun·sick·ened, adjective

Synonyms for sicken Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for sickening

Contemporary Examples of sickening

Historical Examples of sickening

  • When I last wrote, on the Somme in 1915, I was sickening with typhoid fever.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • A sickening conviction came that it was the dreaded influenza.


    W. A. Fraser

  • I had read the "Extra," with all its sickening details, and so handed it back to him.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • It was sickening to see, because I knew what was going to happen.

    American Notes

    Rudyard Kipling

  • Such symptoms, when a disease of the kind is rife, are usually the signs of sickening.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for sickening



causing sickness or revulsion
informal extremely annoying
Derived Formssickeningly, adverb



to make or become sick, nauseated, or disgusted
(intr often foll by for) to show symptoms (of an illness)
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 sickening

"falling sick," 1725; "causing revulsion, disgust, or nausea," 1789, present participle adjective from sicken. Related: Sickeningly.



c.1200, "to become ill," from sick (adj.) + -en (1). Transitive sense of "to make sick" is recorded from 1610s. Related: Sickened; sickening. The earlier verb was simply sick (Old English seocan) "to be ill, fall ill."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper