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Ill vs. Sick: What's the Difference?

Edited by Huma Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 7, 2023
"Ill" and "sick" generally mean suffering from a disease or poor health; "ill" is more formal and "sick" is often used for short-term conditions or to emphasize discomfort or the experience of feeling unwell.

Key Differences

"Ill" and "sick" are terms commonly used interchangeably to describe someone suffering from a disease or poor health. However, "ill" is considered more formal and is often used in a medical context or to describe more severe or long-term conditions. Conversely, "sick" is more colloquial and is often employed to describe short-term ailments or temporary conditions, emphasizing the experience of feeling unwell or discomfort.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023
The choice between "ill" and "sick" can also be influenced by regional dialects and preferences. For example, British English might favor "ill" to describe someone who is not in good health, whereas American English might more commonly use "sick." However, both terms are universally understood, and the context often dictates the choice of word, as "sick" can also refer to vomiting, or feeling nauseated.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023
The usage of "ill" is often more suited to formal writing or conversations, describing a state of not being in good health, possibly due to a chronic condition. It might be used to describe general, prolonged, or serious health conditions. On the other hand, "sick" can be seen as a more casual term, used to describe temporary states of health such as a cold or a stomach bug and is more common in everyday speech.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023
Additionally, "sick" has broadened its meaning in informal language to describe feelings of disgust or aversion, as in "that’s sick," or it can denote something impressive or outstanding, as in "that’s a sick beat." "Ill," however, remains more confined to its medical or health-related connotations and is less versatile in informal slang.
Sara Rehman
Sep 27, 2023

Comparison Chart

Definition

Refers to suffering from a disease or poor health.
Often refers to experiencing short-term ailments or discomfort.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023
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Formality

More formal and used for long-term or severe conditions.
Informal and commonly used for temporary conditions.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Regional Usage

Preferred in British English.
More common in American English.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Additional Meanings

Primarily health-related.
Can refer to feelings of disgust or to something impressive.
Sara Rehman
Sep 27, 2023

Context

Suited to formal writing or conversations.
More casual and common in everyday speech.
Janet White
Sep 27, 2023

Ill and Sick Definitions

Ill

Harmful or unfavorable.
He wished no ill upon them.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023
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Sick

Feeling nauseated; inclined to vomit.
She felt sick after the rollercoaster ride.
Janet White
Sep 27, 2023

Ill

Of poor quality or inferior.
It was an ill attempt at reconciliation.
Sara Rehman
Sep 27, 2023

Sick

Deeply affected with some unpleasant feeling, as disgust, anger, or depression.
He is sick with worry.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Ill

With difficulty or inconvenience; hardly.
He can ill afford to lose.
Sara Rehman
Sep 27, 2023

Sick

Mentally, morally, or emotionally deranged, corrupt, or unsound.
There’s something sick about his obsession.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023
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Ill

In an unfavorable or unkind manner.
He spoke ill of her to everyone.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Sick

Exceptional; outstanding.
That’s a sick guitar solo!
Janet White
Sep 27, 2023

Ill

Not healthy; sick
I began to feel ill last week.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Suffering from or affected with a physical illness; ailing.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Not normal; unsound
An ill condition of body and mind.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Of or for sick persons
Sick wards.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Resulting in suffering; harmful or distressing
The ill effects of a misconceived policy.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Nauseated.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Resulting from or suggestive of evil intentions
Ill deeds committed out of spite.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Mentally ill or disturbed.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Ascribing an objectionable quality
Holds an ill view of that political group.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Unwholesome, morbid, or sadistic
A sick joke.
A sick crime.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Hostile or unfriendly
Ill feeling between rivals.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Defective; unsound
A sick economy.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Harmful; pernicious
The ill effects of a misconceived policy.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Deeply distressed; upset
Sick with worry.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Not favorable; unpropitious
Ill predictions.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Disgusted; revolted.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Not measuring up to recognized standards of excellence, as of behavior or conduct
Ill manners.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Weary; tired
Sick of it all.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(Slang) Excellent; outstanding
Your new car is really ill!.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Pining; longing
Sick for his native land.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

In a bad, inadequate, or improper way. Often used in combination
My words were ill-chosen.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

In need of repairs
A sick ship.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

In an unfavorable way; unpropitiously
A statistic that bodes ill for job growth.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Constituting an unhealthy environment for those working or residing within
A sick office building.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Scarcely or with difficulty
We can ill afford another mistake.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Unable to produce a profitable yield of crops
Sick soil.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Evil, wrongdoing, or harm
The ill that befell the townspeople.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(Slang) Excellent; outstanding
Did a sick run down the halfpipe.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Something that causes suffering; trouble
The social ills of urban life.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Sick people considered as a group. Often used with the.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Something that reflects in an unfavorable way on one
Please don't speak ill of me when I'm gone.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Chiefly British Vomit.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(used with a pl. verb) Sick people considered as a group. Often used with the.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Variant of sic2.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(obsolete) Evil; wicked (of people).
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

In poor health; ill.
She was sick all day with the flu.
We have to care for the sick.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(archaic) Morally reprehensible (of behaviour etc.); blameworthy.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Having an urge to vomit.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Indicative of unkind or malevolent intentions; harsh, cruel.
He suffered from ill treatment.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(colloquial) Mentally unstable, disturbed.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Unpropitious, unkind, faulty, not up to reasonable standard.
Ill manners; ill will
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(colloquial) In bad taste.
That's a sick joke.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Unwell in terms of health or physical condition; sick.
Mentally ill people.
I've been ill with the flu for the past few days.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Tired of or annoyed by something.
I've heard that song on the radio so many times that I'm starting to get sick of it.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Having an urge to vomit.
Seeing those pictures made me ill.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(slang) Very good, excellent, awesome, badass.
This tune is sick.
Dude, this car's got a sick subwoofer!
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(hip-hop slang) Sublime, with the connotation of being so in a singularly creative way.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

In poor condition.
Sick building syndrome; my car is looking pretty sick; my job prospects are pretty sick
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(slang) Extremely bad (bad enough to make one ill). Generally used indirectly with to be.
That band was ill.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(agriculture) Failing to sustain adequate harvests of crop, usually specified.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(dated) Unwise; not a good idea.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Vomit.
He lay there in a pool of his own sick.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Not well; imperfectly, badly
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(especially in the phrases on the sick and on long-term sick) Any of various current or former benefits or allowances paid by the Government to support the sick, disabled or incapacitated.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(often pluralized) Trouble; distress; misfortune; adversity.
Music won't solve all the world's ills, but it can make them easier to bear.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(colloquial) To vomit.
I woke up at 4 am and sicked on the floor.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Harm or injury.
I wouldn't want you to do me ill.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

To fall sick; to sicken.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Evil; moral wrongfulness.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

(rare) sic
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

A physical ailment; an illness.
I am incapacitated by rheumatism and other ills.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Affected with disease of any kind; ill; indisposed; not in health. See the Synonym under Illness.
Simon's wife's mother lay sick of a fever.
Behold them that are sick with famine.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

PCP, phencyclidine.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Affected with, or attended by, nausea; inclined to vomit; as, sick at the stomach; a sick headache.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

To behave aggressively.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Having a strong dislike; disgusted; surfeited; - with of; as, to be sick of flattery.
He was not so sick of his master as of his work.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Contrary to good, in a physical sense; contrary or opposed to advantage, happiness, etc.; bad; evil; unfortunate; disagreeable; unfavorable.
Neither is it ill air only that maketh an ill seat, but ill ways, ill markets, and ill neighbors.
There 's some ill planet reigns.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Corrupted; imperfect; impaired; weakned.
So great is his antipathy against episcopacy, that, if a seraphim himself should be a bishop, he would either find or make some sick feathers in his wings.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Contrary to good, in a moral sense; evil; wicked; wrong; iniquitious; naughtly; bad; improper.
Of his own body he was ill, and gaveThe clergy ill example.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Sickness.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Sick; indisposed; unwell; diseased; disordered; as, ill of a fever.
I am in health, I breathe, and see thee ill.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

To fall sick; to sicken.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Not according with rule, fitness, or propriety; incorrect; rude; unpolished; inelegant.
That 's an ill phrase.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

People who are sick;
They devote their lives to caring for the sick
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Whatever annoys or impairs happiness, or prevents success; evil of any kind; misfortune; calamity; disease; pain; as, the ills of humanity.
Who can all sense of others' ills escapeIs but a brute at best in human shape.
That makes us rather bear those ills we haveThan fly to others that we know not of.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Eject the contents of the stomach through the mouth;
After drinking too much, the students vomited
He purged continuously
The patient regurgitated the food we gave him last night
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Whatever is contrary to good, in a moral sense; wickedness; depravity; iniquity; wrong; evil.
Strong virtue, like strong nature, struggles still,Exerts itself, and then throws off the ill.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Not in good physical or mental health;
Ill from the monotony of his suffering
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

In a ill manner; badly; weakly.
How ill this taper burns!
Ill fares the land, to hastening ills a prey,Where wealth accumulates and men decay.
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Feeling nausea; feeling about to vomit
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

An often persistent bodily disorder or disease; a cause for complaining
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Affected with madness or insanity;
A man who had gone mad
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Not in good physical or mental health;
Ill from the monotony of his suffering
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Having a strong distaste from surfeit;
Grew more and more disgusted
Fed up with their complaints
Sick of it all
Sick to death of flattery
Gossip that makes one sick
Tired of the noise and smoke
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Resulting in suffering or adversity;
Ill effects
It's an ill wind that blows no good
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Sick

Suffering from ill health or disease; unwell.
He is too sick to go to work.
Janet White
Sep 27, 2023

Ill

Distressing;
Ill manners
Of ill repute
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Indicating hostility or enmity;
You certainly did me an ill turn
Ill feelings
Ill will
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Presaging ill-fortune;
Ill omens
Ill predictions
My words with inauspicious thunderings shook heaven
A dead and ominous silence prevailed
A by-election at a time highly unpropitious for the Government
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

(`ill' is often used as a combining form) in a poor or improper or unsatisfactory manner; not well;
He was ill prepared
It ill befits a man to betray old friends
The car runs badly
He performed badly on the exam
The team played poorly
Ill-fitting clothes
An ill-conceived plan
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Unfavorably or with disapproval;
Tried not to speak ill of the dead
Thought badly of him for his lack of concern
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

With difficulty or inconvenience; scarcely or hardly;
We can ill afford to buy a new car just now
Sawaira Riaz
Mar 26, 2023

Ill

Suffering from a disease or poor health.
She has been ill for a week.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

FAQs

Does "sick" have slang meanings?

Yes, "sick" can informally mean feeling disgust or, conversely, something impressive.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Are "ill" and "sick" synonyms?

Generally, yes, but "ill" is more formal, and "sick" has broader, informal meanings.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Can "sick" refer to a short-term condition?

Yes, "sick" often describes temporary or short-term ailments.
Harlon Moss
Sep 27, 2023

Can "ill" refer to a serious condition?

Yes, "ill" can denote more severe or chronic health conditions.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Is "ill" mainly British English?

"Ill" is used in British English, but it is understood and used internationally.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 27, 2023

Is "ill" more suitable for describing long-term conditions?

Yes, "ill" is often used for prolonged or chronic health conditions.
Janet White
Sep 27, 2023

Can "sick" imply vomiting?

Yes, "sick" often refers to feeling nauseated or actually vomiting.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Can "ill" imply difficulty or inconvenience?

Yes, as in "he can ill afford," it denotes difficulty or hardship.
Janet White
Sep 27, 2023

Is "ill" unambiguous in meaning?

"Ill" primarily retains its health-related connotations, with fewer slang or informal meanings.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Does "ill" have meanings beyond health?

Yes, "ill" can also mean harmful, inferior, or unfavorable.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Is "ill" used in formal contexts?

"Ill" is typically more formal and suited to formal writing or conversations.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 27, 2023

Is "sick" more common in everyday speech?

Yes, "sick" is more casual and commonly used in everyday language.
Harlon Moss
Sep 27, 2023

Can "sick" describe something outstanding?

Yes, informally, "sick" can mean exceptional or outstanding, as in "a sick beat."
Harlon Moss
Sep 27, 2023

Does "sick" imply mental or emotional conditions?

"Sick" can informally denote mental, moral, or emotional unsoundness.
Harlon Moss
Sep 27, 2023

Can "sick" be used to express disgust?

Yes, "sick" can also express feelings of disgust or aversion.
Harlon Moss
Sep 27, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Huma Saeed
Huma is a renowned researcher acclaimed for her innovative work in Difference Wiki. Her dedication has led to key breakthroughs, establishing her prominence in academia. Her contributions continually inspire and guide her field.

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