English 10: Writing Portfolio
Catholic Memorial High School
|Since the year 888 the word “Sick”
has been used throughout many different cultures and languages.
It didn’t always ‘look’ like it does now. This word has had many different spellings throughout the
1100 years it has been used. Sick also had many different definitions, as the word developed and
evolved over time. A common perception of this word is that is usually has to do with something or
someone’s state of being. This word’s history reflects English’s history by the way it is used in
everyday life. This is one example of how the English language has evolved.
Some preliminary research that has been done on this word is a survey in which the person is asked
what first comes to their mind when they hear the word “sick”. Then they are asked to make a
sentence with the word. This survey shows how the word is being used in today’s world. Edward:
older, male. Society, “We are living in an unbelievable, sick society. Edward uses sick to describe
our society today and what he thinks of it. Carol: older, female; illness, medicine, “I was sick in
bed yesterday.” She used the word describing how she was in bed yesterday, not feeling good. Billy:
young, male; something cool, “That new truck is sick.” (Slang). Billy used the word as an adjective,
showing how much he likes the new truck. Grace: female, young; cough, throw up, “I was sick last
week.” Grace referred to “sick” as a noun showing you how she felt last week. Amy: female, older;
not feeling well, disease, “The man was sick with cancer.” Amy used the word as a noun also, and
giving us a description of what kind of illness (cancer). All three of the females made a sentence
with “sick” having to do with an illness. The two males thought of something totally different than
the females when they heard the word. The young one (Billy) thought of “sick” as a slang term, used
by many younger kids, in today’s teen culture. The older one (Edward) thought of “sick” as having to
do with today’s culture and politics.
Some people whose native language isn’t English said similar things to the people who were surveyed
before. Pablo, a Spanish speaker, thought of medicine when he heard the word “sick”, and said “ The
man had to go to the doctors because he was sick and needed medical attention.” The second
correspondent, John Carlos, thought of a person with a cold, and said, “Please don’t come near me if
you have a cold.” Both replied with a similar answer and sentence as to the five before them who all
speak English as their native language.
The Oxford English Dictionary or OED has listed the many definitions of the word “sick”. Some of the
definitions of the word are: suffering from illness, ill, unwell of any kind, to get sick, not in a
healthy state, more fully sick in the stomach. Some different or unique definitions are spiritually
or morally ailing, corrupt through sin and wrong doing, deeply affected by some strong feeling,
mentally affected or weak, out of condition in some respect, requiring repairs. As a term of fish:
in the spawning stage. For a bird: the young and un-grown feathers of a bird. Ephraim Chambers said,
“The shotten and sick Herrings are sorted by themselves” in 1728. In the Stock Exchange: slow or
dull. J.K Medbery, the author of Men and Mysteries of Wall St. said, “ A sick market, the market is
ill. When brokers very generally hesitate to buy.” And also of humor: providing amusement to
something that is thoroughly unpleasant. This word also has some slang terms like disgusted,
mortified, and chagrined. Some phrases that have to do with the word are sick and tired of
something, sick of death, sick as a dog.
Many famous authors have used the word “sick” in their writing such as Shakespeare. Shakespeare used
it in Richard 3. “Thy death-bed is no lesser than the Lad, Wherein thou lyest in reputation sicke.”
This is talking about someone’s reputation as being sick, which is how the person is recognized.
William Caxton used the word in Dictes 9 in 1477, “It proffiteth as a good medicine couenably yeven
to them that be seke.” This is referring to medicine and curable with the word “sick”. John Wyclif,
an English Theologian, who also used the word “sick” in various works and was the first to translate
the entire Bible in English. He said, “ I be simpul and sik ne eles I wile euere haue a clerk”. I
think this means that this person is not a clerk when he is sick or simple; not feeling good.
William Yeats used “sick” in Where there is Nothing, in 1903, in the sentence, “ No fear, they won’t
refuse a sick man.” This sentence is talking about the state of being of the man, and telling you
that you are kind of privileged more when you’re sick.
“Sick” has variously reflected over English’s history since it was first spoken and used in the
English language. This word pops up throughout history countless times in many important works of
English. English words are always evolving and changing, and “sick” is one that has recently changed
a lot. “Sick” has many definitions, each with a different meaning, and will get more new meanings as
times passes. “Sick” is in people’s regular vocabulary whether they’re, not feeling well, have a
cold, or for the young ones meaning something cool. Which is really the opposite of the real
definition. The many varieties in the word “sick’ show how the English Language’s history has
influenced in English’s history throughout the years. I don’t think the word sick will die out until
all sicknesses have been eliminated. Then, I think the word’s many uses will have no need. I don’t
expect all sicknesses to be cured any time soon so I don’t think we have to worry about when “sick”
will become extinct.
Dear Master Anonymous,
According to the Oxford English Dictionary James
Naismith first used “basketball” in 1892 when
Literature has been written all around the world
since the early eight century, when Beowulf