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From Middle English sekenen, equivalent to sick +‎ -en. Cognate with Danish sygne (to pine), Swedish sjukna (to fall ill; become sick), Norwegian sykne, Icelandic sjúkna (to sicken; become sick).



sicken (third-person singular simple present sickens, present participle sickening, simple past and past participle sickened)

  1. (transitive) To make ill.
    The infection will sicken him until amputation is needed.
  2. (intransitive) To become ill.
    I will sicken if I don’t get some more exercise.
    • Francis Bacon
      The judges that sat upon the jail, and those that attended, sickened upon it and died.
  3. (transitive) To fill with disgust or abhorrence.
    His arrogant behaviour sickens me.
  4. (sports) To lower the standing of.
    • 2007, Euan Reedie, Alan Shearer: Portrait Of A Legend - Captain Fantastic, →ISBN:
      Whenever I get booed by opposition fans it only makes me more determined to sicken them.
    • 2011, Scott Burns, Walter Smith the Ibrox Gaffer: A Tribute to a Rangers Legend:
      But instead of giving up, the Rangers team managed to grab a dramatic later winner from Kenny Miller to sicken St Mirren and lift the cup
    • 2016 September 28, Tom English, “Celtic 3–3 Manchester City”, in (Please provide the book title or journal name)[1], BBC Sport:
      City took control, pinning a tiring Celtic back and threatening to sicken them with a winner.
  5. (intransitive) To be filled with disgust or abhorrence.
    • Shakespeare
      Mine eyes did sicken at the sight.
  6. (intransitive) To become disgusting or tedious.
    • Goldsmith
      The toiling pleasure sickens into pain.
  7. (intransitive) To become weak; to decay; to languish.
    • Alexander Pope
      All pleasures sicken, and all glories sink.





From Central Franconian secke (to piss), from Proto-Germanic *saikijaną, whence also archaic German seichen. The Central Franconian -ck- may be irregular or may be from a geminated variant Proto-Germanic *sikkōną (compare German sickern). The figurative sense “to be annoyed, to complain” is also found in cognate Dutch zeiken. Compare English pissed off.



sicken (third-person singular simple present sickt, past tense sickte, past participle gesickt, auxiliary haben)

  1. (regional, colloquial, western Germany) to piss
    Ich geh ma’ eben sicken.
    I’m gonna take a piss.
  2. (regional, colloquial, western Germany) to be annoyed; to be pissed off; to complain
    Lass ihn! Der is’ den ganzen Tag schon am Sicken.
    Leave him! He’s been pissed off all day.

Usage notesEdit

  • The figurative sense is used chiefly in the colloquial progressive with am (as above).


Derived termsEdit



sicken c sicket n sicka, sickna pl

  1. (colloquial) what a; expresses a (often strong) feeling such as surprise, disappointment; liking, disliking
    Sicken dag!
    What a day!