Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to: navigation, search

What about: We have to cure the sick.

Isn't sick a noun there? If it is a noun, is it a plural then? Polyglot 10:04, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Good suggestion! I'm not sure how such nouns are classified in English. There are similar nouns based on adjectives and used collectively and uncountable rather than singular or plural. "The rich" and "the poor" are other examples which spring to mind. I know these are a special case in Spanish which take the rare neuter article, "lo" as in "lo pobre" etc.

Should this be "Collective noun" or is that term reserved for things such as "a murder of crows"?

Hippietrail 10:40, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)

It's called (by some grammarians) an "adjectival noun": an adjective used as a noun. Basically, "the xyzzy" is used as a kind of shorthand for "the ones who are xyzzy". Since this can be done with just about any adjective (the elderly, the poor, the artistically inclined, etc.), I don't think it should be considered a noun. The offline dictionaries I've seen don't, as a general rule.
N.b. There's another thing called an "adjectival noun" by other grammarians, just to keep things confusing: a noun used as an adjective, as "disk" in "disk drive", or "gift" in "gift horse". But that's another topic. -- Ortonmc 16:24, 2 Feb 2004 (UTC)
We have to cure the sick uses a substantive, which means it is still an adjective but the word it describes (people) is implied. Other examples include the meek shall inherit the earth, the righteous shall suffer, etc. 03:47, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Our entry on the word substantive includes this meaning with the example the meek shall inherit the earth and defines it as an adjective used in place of a noun, which I don't think is precisely correct. I'm not sure enough to change it though. 03:49, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Excellent Dude, that was Sick![edit]

I've heard sick used by skateboarders, surfers and snowboarders extensively, but only in the US. Rather than calling it a British/Australian term, should it be listed in the sporting contexts it started in (it is now a common term.) --Connel MacKenzie 03:08, 29 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I remember seeing this in an ad for a snowboarding event in early 2004 and it was the first time I ever saw the word used that way. I remember it said "GET SICK!" at the bottom of the flyer. The wider sense of "sick = good" seems to have gone mainstream between then and now, but I've still never heard it used a verb (or verbal complement). Soap (talk) 00:32, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
I saw it this year on a British Twitter feed for one of the university societies. They said that a certain event was going to be a "sick night". (Something like a sick day? Heh.) Equinox 14:06, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
It's definitely slang but it's pretty common. I have described someone as a 'sick bastard' after seeing his juggling video. By which I mean 'very awesome person'. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:18, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

The sick-the disruptive or the evil[edit]

Though it seems unPC to give this definition, the word needs to be defined properly. You can't just define 'the sick' as 'the sick' as it seems to be doing now.

verb or adjective?[edit]

The sense used in "When I heard what she ate for lunch, I felt like I was gonna be sick!" is rather ambiguous. I would suggest it be a verb, as, "...I was gonna be vomiting" but am adding this as an adjective ... Can anyone verify if it is an adjective or verb (or noun)? In any case, this wasn't directly contained in any of the senses given. Sense 4 "having the urge to vomit" did come close however.

I'm also changing the examples: "My car is looking pretty sick." and "My job prospects are pretty sick." to the slang sense "awesome". As far as my English goes, they imply positivity in these contexts. -- 05:39, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

    • I don't think so. SemperBlotto 08:33, 25 November 2009 (UTC)
I think be sick could be considered a single unit where the be and the sick aren't separable. I'd strongly favor an entry for it unless there's some evidence I haven't thought of. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:20, 11 December 2013 (UTC)
We've had it since 2008; good. Mglovesfun (talk) 14:21, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

Deletion discussion[edit]

Green check.svg

The following information passed a request for deletion.

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.


Noun: sick people in general as a group. Not a noun but an adjective. Hence should not be listed as a noun. Mglovesfun (talk) 22:07, 29 November 2012 (UTC)

This comes from a grammatical rule that allows adjectives to mean "the group of X people," as in "the rich" and "the poor." I see that we have this noun sense for "poor" but not "rich." Allowing this usage, opens the door for others like "the beautiful," "the bold," etc. --BB12 (talk) 23:25, 29 November 2012 (UTC)
In theory, there are tests of whether an adjective can also be a noun or not, see Talk:minacious. - -sche (discuss) 00:23, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
This grammatical rule applies widely to adjectives. For example, if I make a posting on Facebook and three people make snarky remarks, it would be naturally to say, "I see the snarky are out in full force today." I think this noun use should be stricken for sick and poor. --BB12 (talk) 09:17, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
If this is not a noun, why does it occur modified by such determiners as many, any, no, some, few as well as the [1]? Is that a general property of adjectives? It is true that, in contrast with affluent, one cannot find this as sicks. One can find it in much more than attestable numbers as a possessive: "general silence reigned, and all the lights below were out, with the exception of a single lamp in the sick's apartment, where lay the remains of Kemble."
I don't think that every adjective displays all of this behavior. Perhaps the existence of a plural form in -s would be the most demanding test, though it would not apply to mass nouns. DCDuring TALK 10:16, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
Very nice search algorithm! Try replacing "sick" with "rich" and with "poor." You'll see plenty of hits. There's even one relevant hit for "affluent." These are adjectives being used as nouns via a grammatical rule. --BB12 (talk) 11:11, 30 November 2012 (UTC)
But it is a very restricted set of adjectives for which conversion to noun occurs, even in this semantic-preserving way. Try finding incongruous or pallid or stony used with determiners, with -'s, or with -s. Not all adjectives that convert to nouns and the boundaries of the set are not obvious, probably not even with a linguistics PhD. 16:00, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

No consensus to delete. bd2412 T 16:06, 4 December 2013 (UTC)

The shorter and more frequent an adjective, the more likely is it perhaps to be used this way, but every adjective that can refer to people can be so used in principle. It's not a small set of adjectives, not even a "set" at all. I can say: "Health insurance should cover makeup for the pallid." That's correct English. And, actually, I've even found the construction with "incongruous", as a neuter singular, here: [2]. Kolmiel (talk) 22:44, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

My note refers to use with definite article. Maybe the generality of this rule hasn't been doubted. Use with determiners is another thing. Kolmiel (talk) 22:57, 24 August 2016 (UTC)

RFC discussion: March 2011[edit]

TK archive icon.svg

The following discussion has been moved from Wiktionary:Requests for cleanup (permalink).

This discussion is no longer live and is left here as an archive. Please do not modify this conversation, but feel free to discuss its conclusions.

The inflection line looks wrong, since it does not correspond with definition two. Caladon 09:07, 4 March 2011 (UTC)

Move the so-called noun to rfd using {{rfd-sense}}. Needy is already at rfd for this same reason. Mglovesfun (talk) 15:48, 6 March 2011 (UTC)