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

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


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verb (used with or without object)
  1. to make or become sick.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for sickening

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • 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


  1. causing sickness or revulsion
  2. informal extremely annoying
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Derived Formssickeningly, adverb


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

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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."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper