Sick idioms

For most of the past week, I have been sick. I mean sick sick. Curled up in a ball, clutching the tissue box, a useless sick lump with a scratchy throat, who can do nothing but cough and sneeze while her insides turn into mucus sick. And with my last two brain cells that survived the fever, I thought about idioms, of course.

It’s true, I am sick as a dog. As in, “Have you seen Erin? Yeah, the lady with the two-foot high mound of used tissues piled beside her? She is sick as a dog.” Why I’m sick as a dog, and not as a cat, a rat, a raccoon, or sick as a termite, I don’t know. That’s the magic of idioms—they don’t mean what they literally say. Dogs are very popular animals in idioms, however. There’s in the dog house and fight like cats and dogs and call off the dogs, to name a few. And sick as a dog has been in our parlance since at least the 1500s.

There are many “sick” idioms in English. And not all mean to literally be ill. Sick as a parrot, for example, is a U.K. idiom that means to be very disappointed. For example, “Johnny was sick as a parrot when his team lost the match.”

There’s also sick at heart, which means to be very sad. For example, “The day Johnny left for the Navy, I was sick at heart, thinking of him being so far away from me.”

With my last few moments of clarity I have before I slip into another cold medicine daze, I have gathered a collection of sick idioms for you to enjoy. Here’s to your health.

Be sick and tired: to be fed up
Example: I am sick and tired of this cold! It’s lasted a whole week!

Be sick to death: to be fed up
Example: I am sick to death of homework! When is summer vacation going to get here?

Be worried sick: to be extremely concerned
Example: I have been worried sick about Johnny since he joined the Navy. What if a shark eats his submarine?

Be sick to your stomach: to encounter such unpleasantness that it makes you ill
Example: The thought of having to share my cookies with that little girl makes me sick to my stomach. These cookies are mine!

Sick up: vomit
Example: I ate so many cookies this morning that I made sick up.

Make someone sick: to extremely disturb someone
Example: Mom made me share my cookies, and it just made me sick. I was so angry!

Sick in bed: to stay in bed while ill
Example: I have been sick in bed with this cold for a week now.

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