Where does 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. (We wish sicknik has stuck around.)
In 2007, Michael Moore released his documentary, Sicko, about problems with the US 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,” a slang way of saying he’s at the top of his game. Sicko, here, seems to be behaving as the slang-inverted sick for “extremely good.”
Examples of sicko
Who uses sicko?
Sicko is a common and forceful insult for someone considered morally or mentally disturbed, from silly memes…
…to condemnatory tabloid tweets.
— Daily Mirror (@DailyMirror) November 1, 2018
Sicko can be used earnestly…
I mean … really? This is your last meal. What a sicko. pic.twitter.com/ZhmJhmn6lb
— Bleed Orange (@bo_bomcda1) November 1, 2018
What kind of depraved sicko abandons an innocent loaf of bread like this pic.twitter.com/E0UGu782vW
— Chalbs (@Aetherfl0w) February 27, 2018
Using sicko for someone with mental health issues, however, stigmatizes mental illness and is considered offensive.
This is not meant to be a formal definition of sicko like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that hopefully touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of sicko that will help our users expand their word mastery.