[ sik-oh ]
/ ˈsɪk oʊ /
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noun, plural sick·os.Slang.
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Origin of sicko

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does sicko mean?

Sicko is a slang word for someone considered deranged, sadistic, perverted, disturbed, or the like.

Where did sicko come from?

Sicko is based on sick, which has described someone as “perverted” or “repugnant” since Old English. It features the suffix -o, used in other such insulting slang terms for people as weirdo, wino, and pinko. The term was recorded in 1977, preceded by sickie and sicknik.

In 2007, Michael Moore released his documentary, Sicko, about problems with the U.S. healthcare system. Elsewhere in politics, sicko has also become a popular way for some armchair critics to characterize Donald Trump since his election in 2016, although Trump himself notably called the February 2018 Parkland, Florida school shooter a sicko.

In 2018, rapper Travis Scott gave sicko a massive signal boost with his Billboard #1 single “Sicko Mode,” where featured rapper Drake says Scott is in “sicko mode.” That’s a slang way of saying he’s at the top of his game. Sicko, here, seems to be behaving like the slang sense of sick for “extremely good.”

Who uses sicko?

Sicko is a common and forceful insult for someone considered morally or mentally disturbed, from silly memes to condemnatory tabloid tweets. Sicko can be used earnestly or ironically.

Using sicko for someone with mental health issues, however, stigmatizes mental illness and is considered offensive.

More examples of sicko:

“Some sicko decides to send explosives to Democratic lightning rods such as Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and an empty vessel like Somerville mayor Joe Curtatone, seeing a chance for a cheap headline, leaps to the conclusion Diehl and his supporters bear some responsibility.”
—Joe Fitzgerald, Boston Herald, October 2018


This content is not meant to be a formal definition of this term. Rather, it is an informal summary that seeks to provide supplemental information and context important to know or keep in mind about the term’s history, meaning, and usage.

How to use sicko in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for sicko

/ (ˈsɪkəʊ) informal /

noun plural sickos
a person who is mentally disturbed or perverted
perverted or in bad tastesicko prurience

Word Origin for sicko

C20: from sick 1 (sense 5) + -o
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