ghastly vs sick what difference

what is difference between ghastly and sick



From a conflation of a derivation of Old English gǣstan (to torment, frighten) with the suffix -lic, and ghostly (which was also spelt “gastlich” in Middle English). Equivalent to ghast/gast + -ly. Spelling with ‘gh’ developed 16th century due to the conflation.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈɡɑːs(t).li/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈɡæs(t).li/


ghastly (comparative ghastlier, superlative ghastliest)

  1. Like a ghost in appearance; death-like; pale; pallid; dismal.
    • 1798, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
      Each turned his face with a ghastly pang.
  2. Horrifyingly shocking.
  3. Extremely bad.


  • (sickly pale): See also Thesaurus:pallid
  • (horrifyingly shocking): lurid



ghastly (not comparable)

  1. In a ghastly manner.
    • 1921, William Dudley Pelley, The Fog: A Novel, page 196:
      Johnathan’s lips moved ghastly before his voice would come. “So I’m crazy, am I? And if I choose to murder you, what would you do?”



  • enPR: sĭk, IPA(key): /sɪk/
  • Rhymes: -ɪk
  • Homophones: sic, Sikh

Etymology 1

From Middle English sik, sike, seek, seke, seok, from Old English sēoc (sick, ill), from Proto-West Germanic *seuk, from Proto-Germanic *seukaz (compare West Frisian siik, Dutch ziek, German siech, Norwegian Bokmål syk, Norwegian Nynorsk sjuk), Danish syg, from Proto-Indo-European *sewg- (to be troubled or grieved); compare Middle Irish socht (silence, depression), Old Armenian հիւծանիմ (hiwcanim, I am weakening).


sick (comparative sicker, superlative sickest)

  1. (more common in the US) In poor health; ill.
    Synonyms: ill, not well, poorly, sickly, unwell
    Antonyms: fit, healthy, well
  2. Having an urge to vomit.
    My daughter was violently sick three times in the night.
    Synonym: nauseated
    • 1913, The Texas criminal reports, page 8:
      In the meantime the old man had gotten up and gone out in the yard and began to vomit. Henry said I believe I feel sick and got up and went out. He went out one door and his father went out the other one. I did not think there was anything wrong with the coffee and I asked my wife to pour this out []
    • 1918, Cecil Day Lewis, The Whispering Roots, Jonathan Cape, page 140:
      Q. Didn’t he complain he was sick before he commenced to vomit?
      A. He did, just before he said, to me, “I feel sick,” I asked him if he wanted to throw up and he said yes.
    • 1958, Gene D’Olive, Chiara, Signet Book
      [] trying hard to cry. Crying’s good. Crying teaches him to breathe. But I wish he weren’t crying from hunger. I feel dizzy. I sit down and feel a little sick. Maybe I’ll vomit, too. No, I never vomit. I feel sick, but I won’t vomit. I never vomit.
    • 2013, Cheryl Rainfield, Stained, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (→ISBN), page 38:
      I feel sick, like I might vomit, and I’m more tired than I can ever remember feeling.
  3. (colloquial) Mentally unstable, disturbed.
    Synonyms: disturbed, twisted, warped
  4. (colloquial) In bad taste.
  5. Tired of or annoyed by something.
  6. (slang) Very good, excellent, awesome, badass.
    Synonyms: rad, wicked
    Antonyms: crap, naff, uncool
  7. In poor condition.
  8. (agriculture) Failing to sustain adequate harvests of crop, usually specified.
  • (in poor health): See also Thesaurus:diseased
  • (having an urge to vomit): See also Thesaurus:nauseated
  • (slang: excellent): See also Thesaurus:excellent
Derived terms
  • ? Navajo: sxih


sick (uncountable)

  1. (Britain, Australia, colloquial) Vomit.
  2. (Britain, colloquial) (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.
  • (vomit): See Thesaurus:vomit

Derived terms

  • (ill): sickie a day of sick leave, often implying some level of deceit as in “throw a sickie” – take a day’s sick leave for some other purpose.


sick (third-person singular simple present sicks, present participle sicking, simple past and past participle sicked)

  1. (colloquial) To vomit.
  2. (obsolete except in dialect, intransitive) To fall sick; to sicken.
    • circa 1598, William Shakespeare, King Henry IV, part 2:
      Our great-grandsire, Edward, sick’d and died.
    • 2005, Damian Marley, “Welcome to Jamrock”, Welcome to Jamrock(album) [3].

Etymology 2

Variant of sic, itself an alteration of seek.


sick (third-person singular simple present sicks, present participle sicking, simple past and past participle sicked)

  1. (rare) Alternative spelling of sic
    • 1920, James Oliver Curwood, “Back to God’s Country”
      “Wapi,” she almost screamed, “go back! Sick ’em, Wapi—sick ’em—sick ’em—sick ’em!”
    • 1938, Eugene Gay-Tifft, translator, The Saga of Frank Dover by Johannes Buchholtz, 2005 Kessinger Publishing edition, →ISBN, page 125,
      When we were at work swabbing the deck, necessarily barelegged, Pelle would sick the dog on us; and it was an endless source of pleasure to him when the dog succeeded in fastening its teeth in our legs and making the blood run down our ankles.
    • 1957, J. D. Salinger, “Zooey”, in, 1961, Franny and Zooey, 1991 LB Books edition, page 154,
      “…is just something God sicks on people who have the gall to accuse Him of having created an ugly world.”
    • 2001 (publication date), Anna Heilman, Never Far Away: The Auschwitz Chronicles of Anna Heilman, University of Calgary Press, →ISBN, page 82,
      Now they find a new entertainment: they sick the dog on us.


  • CKIs

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