What does (sic) mean?

I often used to see (sic) or [sic] after some tweets or quotes in newspapers and used to wonder what it really means. See the image below who will understand what I am talking about.


So today I made up my mind to Google and find out what is it all about. Here’s to other curious people like me. The definition is as follows;

Sic in brackets is an editing term used with quotations or excerpts. It means “that’s really how it appears in the original.”

It is used to point out a grammatical error, misspelling, misstatement of fact, or, as above, the unconventional spelling of a name.

Here are some answers that I found from various people on the net;

I.J., Newcastle UK

  • “Thus”. I gather the gist is “I know that is spelt wrong: it’s meant to be that way”. Repeating a quote which has a spelling mistake in it, for example.

Dave Higgins, Leeds UK

  • It’s Latin for “thus”. Editors use it when citing a reference to inform a reader that the spelling or grammatical mistakes in the reference are to be attributed to the original source. Just another way of saying, “Don’t blame me.”

Robert del Valle, Detroit USA

  • It means ‘so’, or ‘thus’. It implies that the use is wrong. Employed when quoting another and being pedantic, usualy (sic).

Jonathan, Lancaster, UK

  • I don’t no (sic).

Huw Griffiths, Norfolk England

  • It means: “I know exactly how this word is spellt(sic) but I’m printing the discussion verbatim to illustrate my linguistic supremacy!”

James Knox, Manchester England

  • It is Latin for ‘such’. It is used in prose when quoting a factual error, solecism or typo to indicate that the mistake was made in the text being quoted and not by the writer him/herself.

Stephen Buckland, Kingston upon Thames UK

  • Sic is Latin for So or Thus. It is used to denote that a grammatical error, mistake or specific formating in a quoted section is in the original quote and the quoted section is AS IT APPEARS in the original document. The quoting party is pointing out that they are not making an error or changing the format of the quote but are indicating that the original contianed the error or formating.

Phil Esslinger, Calgary Canada

  • The author has just vomited?

Dave Bush, Leamington Spa Warks

  • Sic transit Gloriam or “there but for the grace of God go I.” It is used to reflect the errors of others by quoting them directly especially in the use of malapropisms or bad spelling.

Wilf, Puebla Mexico

  • It comes from the latin ‘sic’ meaning ‘like’ or ‘as’. Usually it is written in quotations to indicate that a mistake is like that in the original.

Adam Taussik, London

  • Sic is short for Sicut, a Latin word which, for those familiar with Latin choral works, crops up in Sicut erat in principio… or ‘As it was in the beginning’. So it basically means Like that. It’s used when quoting something with a spelling mistake or other glaring error, to mean Don’t blame me, I’m only quoting.

David Kimmins, London

  • To add to further answers it is used as the shortening of “Sic Transit Gloriam” meaning (roughly) there but for the grace of God go I, therefore distancing oneself from the mistake and often passing silent comment on the writer of the original quote. Fine examples of such usage can often be found in Private Eye

Wilf, Puebla Mexico

  • (sic) is an abbreviation for ‘standard idiom communique’ which, to the illiterate proletariat, meant that the words preceding (sic) were in fact spelled correctly, and that they should refrain from posting idiotic complaints about the subject.

Martin Hynes, Michigan, USA

  • Sic is an acronym acknowledging a spelling error. Sic – Something Is Changed.

Tippo, Liverpool Merseyside

  • The origin may be a shortcut for the latin “sicut”, meaning “just as”. The use of ‘sic’ in literary works is intended “thus” to impute the quoted element to its original source “just as” it exists.

Patrick Dua (Dr), Heidelberg, Germany

  • I don’t know where the idea came from that ‘sic’ is short for ‘sic transit gloriam’, which supposedly means ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. As many respondents say, ‘sic’ simply means ‘so’ or ‘thus’ denoting ‘thus in the original’. ‘Sic transit gloriam’ is meaningless Latin. I guess that it is a bastard version of the phrase ‘sic transit gloria mundi’, meaning ‘thus the glory of the world passes away’. Which has nothing whatever to do with the present question.

Peter Dillon-Hooper, Leicester, UK

  • You’re all sic. (sic)

Dodgey, Melbourne Australia

  • Spelling Intentionally Crap.

Tim, Buckfastleigh, Devon

  • The idea of using Latin ‘sic’ to replace ‘thus’ is quite funny, considering that ‘thus’ is also a Latin word…

Tony Bannister, London UK

  • I acknowledge all other varients but prefer the more easily understood Spelling InCorrect

Ted Bach, Brisbane Australia

  • When u add “sic” after a misspelt word, u r saying, “Hey! I know the spelling is incorrect, but this is excatly how the guy I interviewed said it”!!!

GD, Chennai India

  • Spelling InCorrect?

Denise, West Chester PA USA

  • Source of Information-Copied, as in verbatim, or Source of Information Cuoted (sic).

Badz, Batanes, Philippines

  • Stated In Context

Evan, San Gabriel, CA USA

  • It means, to be “written and read as spoken”

James E. Mwachala, Nairobi Kenya

  • King James’ court recorder wanted to send a coded message to his lover (also one of the King’s mistresses). He coded court documents to remind the girl about their first kiss, which happened to be in the King’s bedroom. Thus, the abbreviation “SIC”, for “Scandalum In Camera” (scandal in private chambers). They shared many months of romance, but soon the court recorder’s body was found with the words “SerIatim Caveat” engraved on his body (One after another. Beware!). The girl was never heard from again. Shakespeare heard of this urban legend and adopted the word “sic” in his literature, probably to remind himself of love’s transgressions and tragedies. Remember, “Certum est, quia impossibile”

Thane, Sacramento USA

  • Sic = “Stupid Incoming Comments” regarding the many comments made by George W. Bush. And a master at having his verbage cleaned up by his staff….so his “stupid incoming comments” will not be reflected in the history books! Another word in this case for “DUH.”

Annie, Oregon, USA

  • When in doubt consult the Oxford Dictionary (for, to my mind, in so far as anything can ever be considered ‘correct’ in the evolving land of language it is there that correct is established): sic – A parenthetical insertion used in printing quotations or reported utterances to call attention to something anomalous or erroneous in the original, or to guard against the supposition of misquotation. Also as n., an instance of ‘sic’. Etymology: L. sic so, thus.

Fritha Stalker, Auckland New Zealand

  • Stand for Spelling InCorrect

Rob Jacobs, Cincinnati USA

  • King James’ Mistress?!? Now I’ve read it all! Jamie The Saxt (sic), apart from being a dribbling hunchback, and known as “The Wisest Fool in Christendom”, was a notorious homosexual…..it took him all his time to do his “duty” to produce a male heir with the Queen (Anne) and presented her with a tightrope artist to keep her amused and out of his bed. Jamie the saxt (Sixth, of Scotland) became James The First of the United Kingdoms of England and Scotland and the Principality of Wales. Americans cannot help themselves and insist on altering history and the King’s or Queen’s English to suit their views. sic simply means “so” or “thus” – not some invented acronym to suit a particular view or fantastical idea – the writer acknowledging the word looks misspelt but that was the way he intended to write it. Americans should be perfectly at home with its usage as it should be employed every time they murther (sic) the English Language. Color (sic), being just one instance. Gotten (sic) being another. As a Scot living in England I am horrified by the mangling to which the English subject their language. sic should become part of the spoken, as well as the written, word. Shakespeare shouldn’t be quoted as the definitive font of knowledge. He called MacBeth Thane of Cawdor as though Thane was an enobled (sic) title, whereas a thane in medieval Scotland and England was a servant or attendant. As the Americans delight in saying, snafu (sic) – more correctly S.N.A.F.U.

Prof Stravaigin Sword, Stoke Rivers England

  • Tony Bannister, London UK: the word ‘thus’ is not Latin. It’s Old English, maybe some roots in German.

Phil, Gainesville Florida

  • After reading many fonts on sic it prompts me to say that it means `something in careles(sic)

jaikrish, Toronto Canada

  • Said In Context…Meaning you took the words verbatim- miss-spelled and everything!

Christine, Orlando USA

  • ‘Backronyms’ (created to fit the word, but not creating the word) such as “spelling is correct”, “same in copy”, “spelling intentionally conserved”, “said in context”, or “sans intention comique” (French: without comic intent) etc. are all FALSE etymologies. Nor is sic a shortened form of ‘Sicunt’. Sic is indeed a Latin word meaning “thus”, “so”, “as such”, or “just as that”. The usage discussed above is, however, correct.

Piers, Manchester UK

  • According to Eric Partridge: “sic means ‘intentionally so written.’ It is properly used to assure the reader that quoted words, though unlikely, are accurately reproduced. It should not be used to scoff at unintentional error or at illiteracy.”

Joel Mielke, Eureka, California USA

  • I’m feeling terribly sic (sic).

Oinotna Onitnerros, Mold Wales

  • I have rarely been so entertained by one short, three-letter word, and all ensuing debate regarding meaning and origin, in all my life. Thank you all for being so well read, and diversely amusing!

Alex Parker, St Albans, England

  • SIC! is used at the end of written discussion meaning something like: “I said what i had to say, do not respond further” politely or “end of discussion” impolitely. SIC!

Viktor Stevkovski, Skopje Macedonia

  • I used sic in legal advice today after many years ‘and its coming’ sic or no sic?

Allis Karim – Lawyer, Cambridge United Kingdom

  • Professor Sword, it is pleasing to see people such as yourself defending the English language. I offer, tongue-in-cheek, (sic) to mean Sadly Illiterate Colonials.

Steve Jourdan, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

  • Its also a name of a Slipknot fan group.

Lewis Byrne, Newcastle, England

  • sic is most often used to expose another word or phrase to ridicule. It is most often appropriate to use when referring to the slippery slope or red herring arguments espoused by politicians.

Mike Tompkins, Anaheim, California, USA

  • Sic, isn’t spelt wrong at all, if looked up it means urged to attack e.g. ‘the owner sicked his dog’ meaning the owner tried to make his dog attack.

Kristopher Camblin, Belfast, N.Ireland

  • I just used it, and then looked it up! I wrote in a memo: this can only be solved by cash (sic). This spontaneous utilisation of (sic) – which I also use in French, but not in German (why?) – occurred because I wrote this memo to a person whose name is Nicki Cash. Got it? cash – Cash? And I put down (sic) because I wanted to say with a twinkle something like: “Yes it is so, not just playing with your name.”

Pol Wirtz, Luxembourg

  • Question with a question, but why does it not appear in The Sun, only Poseur Papers…?

Harry Hopgood, Margate

  • As a court transcriber, I use (sic) when a speaker uses the incorrect word or name, e.g., plaintiff when he meant defendant or victim when he clearly meant perpetrator. I use (sic) to show that the mistake was made by the speaker, not myself in transcribing the words. (Sic) means that’s what they said, I know it sounds incorrect, but that’s verbatim what was spoken. By the way, “said in context” or “thusly” works for me. As long as everyone knows I wasn’t the one who made the mistake — that’s what (sic) means for court reporters/transcribers.

Leslie Taylor, Port Angeles, USA

  • Whilst the Latin explanation makes more sense, I always thought it meant “Spelt In Context”. I’ll refer to the Latin explanation from here on in!

Pete Theobald, Lincoln, UK

  • The working example provided by court recorder Leslie is, I feel, extremely helpful to those confused by the meaning and use of the term “sic”. However, Professor Sword wins this year’s “I Burst a Blood Vessel over a Matter of Trivia” award for his enactment of “Most Outraged, yet Entertaining, Diatribe by an Imperialistic Scot”.

Christiana Ferguson, Oxford, UK

  • I am grateful to all of the contributors for giving me unexpected entertainment during the mundane task of simply looking up a word meaning.

Giacomo, Pittsburgh, USA

  • Absolutley fascinating (sic)

Kila Haines, Lancashire, UK

  • It was first used by the Germans in 1904 and in German it means a whale’s Vagina.

Mark, London England

  • It’s a reference to the Nu-metal band, slipknot.. It has nothing to do with something being mis-spelled or whatever you people are saying.

Brian Ray, Dothan united states

  • Dodgey had the best answer – I’m still laughing.

Dave, Solvang USA

  • …as a parrot(sic)

Bogmon, Hereford, UK

  • I live in a road called Capel (sic) Road. It always looks like a error with an obviously missing ‘h’. It pines to be Chapel but it isn’t Chapel it’s Capel. So my use of sic is to indicate, it is this, it is so, don’t mess with it, whilst it looks like an error it is as intended.

Graham Downes, Forest Gate, London, UK

  • Sic. is used to refer to the original version of what is said by the person being quoted without inculcating any alteration. And as such, the grammatical mistakes or otherwise being therein are not attributed to the person referring it.

achal kumar chaturvedi, Mathura India

  • I must say that the meaning of “(sic)” is fairly clear as I read all of the above. Why do so many commentators then intentionally make mistakes and insert (sic) after their own errors? Surely the purpose is to indicate the error of another in a direct quote, and the purpose of these comments is to inform those less confident in their language use rather than to confuse them with further misuse and ambiguity?

James Bettany, Plymouth Devon

  • SIC : Spelling InCorrect

ty urus, tenafly, new jersey usa

  • “Daily Writing Tips” … “What Does (sic) Mean? by Maeve Maddox Samm (sic) asks “What does (sic) mean?” Sic in square brackets is an editing term used with quotations or excerpts. It means “that’s really how it appears in the original.” It is used to point out a grammatical error, misspelling, misstatement of fact, or, as above, the unconventional spelling of a name.”

Bente Loudon, Sale, Manchester UK

  • I love the way that there are so many mistakes – grammatical and otherwise – in the previous answers. Some were clearly intentional, but I fear many were not. This is known as Muphry’s Law – that if you write anything correcting someone else, you will in turn make a mistake yourself. By the way, the James I explanation was interesting, but bogus, not least because acronyms are by and large a 20th century invention.

Brian Steele, Hove

  • I just had to note that my cue for memory from some newspaper work is “Same In Copy.” The ‘Spelling InCorrect’ is a bit awkward for my taste. Note that I may have been nasty as a youth converting handwritten letters to the editor. My incitement to add information – “Muphry’s Law” (sic) – hilarious proof of said law’s efficacy. The origin of my search? To the effect of: “I hope I don’t get sicced by Cthulu for that” seems to be of less general usage.

Ralph Umbarger, Houston USA

  • The Latin adverb sic (abbreviated from sic erat scriptum, “thus was it written”)

Paul Donnelly, Castlebay, United Kingdom

  • As a case study for those interested in disecting reasons for divergent language this particular thread should excel. In as much as (sic) does not have a capital, perhaps bears relevance. Pleasant also to see the word misused as in irony. As if we “could not repeat it if we tried?”

David simmons, Newbury, England

  • Apart from indicating a disagreement with the spelling to which ‘sic’ has been attached, I prefer its use suggests inappropriate use of terms. For example the use of “impedance” where the writer means “resistance.” The first is a resultant of the combination of the reactive component with that of the resistance and to use them interchangeably is a serious error.

Reg Boyle, Westleigh Sydney Australia

  • SIC – Standard Industrial Classification

Jay, London LONDON

  • (sic) (with square-brackets usually) is an abbreviation of ‘sic erat scriptum’ which is Latin for ‘thus it had been written’, meaning that the quote prior was transcribed as it was found in the original source, complete with errors, coloquialisms etc.

David, London England

  • “(sic)” actually is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “sic erat scriptum” – which means “thus was it written”

Mariette Welthagen, Sandton South Africa