Green’s Dictionary of Slang

sick adj.1

1. (US Und.) imprisoned.

[US]Matsell Vocabulum.

2. (US campus) a general pej., of poor quality, unfashionable, unappealing, stupid, weak, bizarre.

[US]L.H. Bagg Four Years at Yale 47: Sick, bad, inferior, disgusting, contemptible.
[US]R. Lardner ‘Alibi Ike’ in Coll. Short Stories (1941) 45: You ought to keep the doll with us and he’d make Cobb’s figures look sick.
[US]D. Mitchell Thumb Tripping (1971) 177: Hey Jesus, this is sick.
[UK]J. Sullivan ‘A Touch of Glass’ Only Fools and Horses [TV script] Well don’t you think it’s a bit sick you know – a cat playing a song about a dog?
[US]G.A. Fine With the Boys 175: The Iowan male subculture [...] uses ‘moron’ rather than calling someone ‘sick’.
[US]P. Munro Sl. U. 170: sick bad, of poor quality; strange; gross; stupid, uncool.
[UK]Guardian G2 18 June 5: It’s sick. You have to forget your ego and you just talk about how tired you are all the time.
[UK]Observer Screen 10 Oct. 2: Oh, LA is one sick city, and the sooner the Big One hurtles the whole town into the Pacific the better.

3. annoyed, worried, disgusted, often with undertones of jealousy.

[US]G. Devol Forty Years a Gambler 28: We won the bank roll, which made the Frenchman very sick.
[US]‘Mark Twain’ Tom Sawyer, Detective 89: Well, it made our lawyer look pretty sick; and it knocked Tom silly, too.
[UK]Sporting Times 9 June 3/3: I reckon Tommie and Archie feel slightly sick that I’m not howling any over that seven pound four, eh?
[US]‘O. Henry’ ‘A Tempered Wind’ in Gentle Grafter (1915) 185: They all had Golconda stock and looked as sick as you please.
[UK]J. Masefield Everlasting Mercy 12: Time! There was Bill, and I felt sick / That luck should play so mean a trick.
[US](con. 1910s) S. Lewis Elmer Gantry 260: He was expected everywhere to tell of ‘brave death in the cause of the Lord.’ He was very sick about it.
[US]D. Runyon ‘Tobias the Terrible’ in Runyon on Broadway (1954) 108: Then I can go back to Erasmus and make Joe Trivett look sick.
[US](con. 1910s) J.T. Farrell Young Lonigan in Studs Lonigan (1936) 56: She [...] passed him on his right, making him look quite sick.
[US]Mezzrow & Wolfe Really the Blues 252: Man, we got some records back there by a guy [...] called James P. Johnson that’ll make them all look sick.
[UK]Wodehouse Mating Season 121: I imagined that she would be as sick as mud.
[UK]Wodehouse Jeeves and the Feudal Spirit 93: That fellow Cheesewright makes me sick.
[UK]N. Dunn Talking to Women 32: nell.: What do you think makes you get sick of people? kathy.: Habits – bad habits.
[UK] in R. Graef Living Dangerously 58: I was gutted, well sick.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 11: He was sick and I could see it on his face.

4. (US) mentally disturbed, psychopathic, esp. in a sadistic way.

[US]N. Algren Walk on the Wild Side 189: He’s sick enough for twenty.
[US]J. Rechy City of Night 179: Fairies and nymphos and sick, sick cops.
[US]J. Breslin World of Jimmy Breslin (1968) 13: ‘I think you’re sick.’ [...] ‘No, I’m not. I just hate those people.’.
[US]L. Wolf Voices from the Love Generation 29: The norm is sick.
[US](con. 1950s) H. Junker ‘The Fifties’ in Eisen Age of Rock 2 (1970) 100: As the get-well card said: I’m glad you’re sick, but I’m sorry you’re ill.
[US](con. 1960s) W. Price The Wanderers 21: So you’re the sick sonovabitch who did that.
[US]E. Torres Carlito’s Way 20: Sick — some of them guys is sick.
[US]J. Ellroy Brown’s Requiem 85: Jesus Christ. I always knew he was sick. But this.
[US]S. Morgan Homeboy 210: You’re a lot sicker than belly Blast can cure with whips.
[US]C. Hiaasen Stormy Weather 15: That was the sickest thing I ever saw.
[Ire]P. Howard The Joy (2015) [ebook] Mad Frankie is one sick fucker.
[UK]Indep. 24 Sept. 4: Hirst exhibition ‘sick stuff’ says Mayor Giuliani.
[US]Hip-Hop Connection Jan./Feb. 34: He’s a sick motherfucker who should be murdered in a public square.
[Aus]T. Winton ‘Boner McPharlin’s Moll’ in Turning (2005) 287: The fucking creep! The miserable, sick bastard.

5. (orig. US) morbid, depraved, e.g. a sick sense of humour.

[US]H.S. Thompson in Proud Highway (1997) 305: When they did a sick little ditty called, ‘Happy Landings, Amelia Earhart,’ there was a distinct odor of Lenny Bruce.
[US]R. Stone Hall of Mirrors (1987) 181: You’re sick man [...] you’re fucking depraved, old boy.
[US]L. Bruce Essential Lenny Bruce 132: I don’t want to be referred to with those sick comics, and Lenny Bruce is the sickest of them all.
[US] (ref. to 1958) A. Goldman Lenny Bruce 214: Lenny [...] was playing into the image of the sick comic [...] the sick comics were the big pop-culture phenomenon of the fall of 1958.
[UK]G.F. Newman Villain’s Tale 183: It was like some sick joke against themselves.
[US]‘Joe Bob Briggs’ Joe Bob Goes to the Drive-In 61: Night of the Living Dead (1968): [...] banned in several cities because it’s sick.
[UK]I. Welsh Trainspotting 181: The Sick Boy is going round tae Marianne’s the night for some sick fun. Doggy style must certainly be on the menu.
[UK]Guardian Weekend 26 June 3: Selling pornography in sweet shops [...] I think it’s such a sick and stupid thing.
[UK]E. St Aubyn Mothers Milk 229: Two pot-bellied policemen training an Alsatian to tear apart any sick fucks who thought to disturb the peace.

6. excellent, first-rate [on the bad = good model].

[US]Eble Campus Sl. Mar. 5: sick – unbelievably good: The Fleetwood Mac concert was sick.
D. Fallowell Satyrday 25: I hope this party’s going to be sick [...] I fancy something really brilliant and sick.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Oct.
[US]Eble Campus Sl. Apr.
[US]College Sl. Research Project (Cal. State Poly. Uni., Pomona) [Internet] Sick (adj.) Awesome, neat, cool.
[Aus]G. Seal Lingo 106: Youthspeak for something good can range through zesty, mad, sick and bad.
[UK]Guardian G2 3 Aug. 3: They was ... the nuts [...] heavy, large, sick.
[US]50 Cent ‘Wanksta’ [lyrics] I got the sickest vendetta, when it come to the chedda, (uh huh) / Nigga, you play with my paper, you gon meet my baretta.
[US]Teen Lingo: The Source for Youth Ministry [Internet] sick adj. sick describing an extremely good trick in an extreme sport ‘That was a sick ollie over the stairs braw!’.
[US]A. Swartz ‘Sweet, Tight and Hella Stupid’ in S.F. University High School Update Mar.–Apr. 2: sick – tight.
1Xtra [BBC radio] One of the sickest hip-hop gigs in 2006.
[UK]BBC News ‘Report on Teenage Slang’ 11 Mar. [radio] sick = very good.
[US]C. Hiaasen Star Island (2011) 34: Yeah, just Cherish. Is that sick or what?
[UK]J. Cornish Attack the Block [film script] 45: PEST You know what man? [...] I’m shitting myself innit. But at the same time... [...] This is sick.
[US]C. Eble (ed.) UNC-CH Campus Sl. Spring 2016.
[UK]Guardian Guide 21 May 11/2: I committed myself to being a sick guy, a sick performer.

In compounds

sick-ass (adj.)

see separate entry.

In phrases

knock someone sick (v.) (also sick someone)

to amaze, to astonish; to disorientate, stun.

[UK]Hull Dly Mail 16 Oct. 3/4: The water seemed to knock him sick.
Wkly Advertiser (Montgomery, AL) 29 Aug. 4/7: Up he ran, / Against a man, / Who knocked him sick.
[UK]Marvel III:56 19: We’re going to knock ’em sick this term.
[UK]C. Holme Lonely Plough (1931) 162: The Shaws paled – this was a new and dreadful Harriet – but Stubbs merely halloed: ‘Sick ’em, lass!’.
[US]Brooklyn Dly Eagle (NY) 2 May 28/2: [pic. caption] Knocked Sick Again!
sick and wrong (adj.)

(US campus) a general pej., absolutely impossible, unthinkable, totally disgusting; also used ironically.

[US] P. Munro Sl. U.
Courier (Waterloo, IA) 2 Sept. 24/5: ‘Raunchy’: gross or disgusting. ‘Sick and wrong’: same as ‘raunchy’.
sick as… (adj.)

see separate entry.