I have dreams of someday someone opening up my grammar book and saying, “dude, that’s sick,” with “sick” meaning awesome. If they said, “it’s [sic],” I’d be super bummed. So bummed I would “sick” or “sic” a dog after them? No. That seems a bit over the top, don’t you think? But I needed to see how else to get these words into the story.
You probably never realized how complicated “sick” vs. “sic” could be.
- “Sick” is an adjective meaning ill. It can also mean disgusting or occasionally awesome, depending on where you want to let slang take you, but that’s another story.
- “To sic” is a verb, meaning to incite an attack or go after. If there’s a “beware of dog” sign, this is the verb you should be most worried about coming from an angry neighbor.
- “[Sic]” inside of brackets is a way to denote an error inside of a quote, pointing out that the flaw was in the original text, not your bad transcription or other rendering of it. This “sic” is Latin for “so thus,” meaning “intentionally so written.”
So, knowing this, should you tell a dog to “sick ‘em” or “sic ‘em”?
Well, I suppose it would depend on whether you wanted the dog to make someone sick or to attack. Usually, this phrasing is all about the attack, though, so “sic” would be what you’re looking for.
Of course, if you found it misspelled in a quote, it would look something like this:
He said, “sick [sic] ‘em, Rover.”
Knowing whether to tell your dog whether to lay or lie down is one thing, but knowing how to spell your commands is equally important.
Will anyone ever tell me how totally sick my writing tips are? We’ll see what happens. But in the meantime, at least we can get one more word’s spelling straight.
Happy writing, folks.
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