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“Sic” or “Sick” something on someone?

There’s a slang expression in English which I don’t know how to spell correctly. The phrase would be used (phoentically) like this:

“I’m gonna sic the cops on you for doing that!”

meaning “I am going to report to the police what you did, and you will presumably be punished for doing it.”

Now I’ve seen internet kids using this phrase left and right, and I have seen it consistently spelled

“SICK” --> “I’m gonna sick the cops on you!”

It’s slang, so I’ve looked, but I can’t find the answer in a dictionary anywhere. But it’s driving me nutty, because I always thought it was spelled “sic” and not “sick.”

Is there a proper answer to this question, and if so, does anyone have it?


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from the online Merriam-Webster at

Main Entry: 2sic
Variant(s): also sick /'sik/
Function: transitive verb
Inflected Form(s): sicced also sicked /'sikt/; sic·cing also sick·ing
Etymology: alteration of seek
1 : CHASE, ATTACK -- usually used as a command especially to a dog <sic 'em>
2 : to incite or urge to an attack, pursuit, or harassment : SET

jplatt717 May 4, 2005, 9:36am

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The word is not slang, you should be able to find it any dictionary. But to the point: both spellings are acceptable, thou "sic" is more common.

IngisKahn May 4, 2005, 9:39am

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I think it's better to use sic. Sic is a word made just for that usage, while sick is just a variation.

meepz June 3, 2005, 2:18pm

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Actually they're both variations of "seek".

IngisKahn June 4, 2005, 8:57am

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Keep in mind that "sic" is also an editorial note, inserted into the original text, I believe in the instance where there is a mistak [sic].

John June 20, 2005, 4:46pm

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To be safe, use "sic."

Dredsina December 13, 2007, 4:22pm

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sic is a LATIN word.

is used now for quote a sentence from someone.
like you say in your first exemple.

sick it was deturned from his usage.
on online game like cs or wow : sick means "shit im dead... sick..."
and now the kevin are lost between sic and sick.

choan December 10, 2008, 12:56pm

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sic is latin, meaning "thus" and mostly used to quote a sentence with a spelling or grammar mistake in it to show that it's not your own mistake but verbatim.

It's also a short form of 'seek' and used to set the dogs on someone.

Sick 'em is a modern misspelling that imo gives it a slightly different connotation, but still works. And it means you don't have to learn a new word, handy for lazy teenagers and people with English as a second language. It's lazy though.

foolish_child February 25, 2010, 10:21am

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Using "sick" for "sic" isn't slang - it's bad grammar.

cornstained June 7, 2015, 11:17pm

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It stands to reason that the Latin "sic" meaning "thus" as in "so" is the origin of the active verb for chase or seek, noted as the origin above. "Sic semper tyrannis" and "Sic transit gloria mundae" come to mind. "Thus always to tyrants" & "Thus passes or so goes the glory of the world"
Make sense?
Prof H

Prof EF Hubb November 11, 2015, 7:44am

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more ... (interesting!
Origin of SIC

Latin, so, thus — more at so

First Known Use: circa 1859
From Merriam Webster online --
Definition of SIC

chiefly Scottish variant of such

transitive verb \ˈsik\
: to attack (someone or something)
sicced also sicked \ˈsikt\ sic·cing also sick·ing
Full Definition of SIC

: chase, attack —usually used as a command especially to a dog <sic 'em>
: to incite or urge to an attack, pursuit, or harassment : set <sicced their lawyers on me>
Variants of SIC

sic also sick \ˈsik\

adverb \ˈsik, ˈsēk\
Definition of SIC

: intentionally so written —used after a printed word or passage to indicate that it is intended exactly as printed or to indicate that it exactly reproduces an original <said he seed [sic] it all>
Origin of SIC


see also

Prof EF Hubb November 11, 2015, 8:13am

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The Internet: "an electronic communications network that connects computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world", is a proper noun and should be capitalized. As a noun, there is no other application of this word, so spelling it using lower case would be inappropriate.

New Reader January 3, 2017, 9:46pm

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Yes     No