Definition of sickly in English:

sickly

adjective

  • 1Often ill; in poor health.

    ‘she was a thin, sickly child’
    • ‘When I was a child, I was a weak, sickly little thing.’
    • ‘His wife is frail and sickly, and he is often without work.’
    • ‘A baby that appeared weak or sickly at birth, or had even a minor birth defect such a cleft pallet, hair lip, or cleft foot, or was in some other way imperfect was killed.’
    • ‘While there were leaves, they were sickly and frail and barely hanging on from their branches.’
    • ‘King was a sickly child, once bedridden for a year, and at the age of four he one day returned home silently after playing with a friend and crawled into bed.’
    • ‘‘Remove these weak and sickly ones,’ he commanded of the soldiers that accompanied him.’
    • ‘It was a tough birth, and I was a frail, sickly infant.’
    • ‘The incessant screech grew in a massive crescendo of sound, and made Vincent's entire body feel sickly and weak.’
    • ‘I left thoroughly turned-off by the film's weak, sickly ending.’
    • ‘The predator weeds out the weak and the sickly (those incapable of participation).’
    • ‘During the 19th century it had a reputation in Britain as a restorative food for invalids and sickly children, and was added to their diet in various forms.’
    • ‘Rumoured to be sickly, deformed and incapable of producing heirs, Carlos was widely held to have only a few years to live.’
    • ‘Colonel Brandon mentions wearing one, and Marianne takes this as a sign he is old and sickly, and incapable of being a lover.’
    • ‘He had always been more comfortable with women; as a young boy, he was sickly and weak and preferred to stay at home with his mother and sisters rather than play with the boys.’
    • ‘As a tyke, little Bobby Jones was a frail, sickly kid, living under the auspices of protective parents, and a Puritanical grandfather.’
    • ‘A real man, I used to say, no matter how sickly or incapacitated, should pick up a case by its handle and carry it like a man.’
    • ‘Physically he gives Alexei a gentle, frail, almost sickly presence that naturally arouses women's protective instincts.’
    • ‘Scrawny and pale, with a mop of scruffy black hair and watery grey eyes, he looked sickly and weak.’
    • ‘In history books, one can find descriptions of this Bulgarian king as ‘weak, sickly, meek and a poor statesman’.’
    • ‘My true love returned a fortnight later, clearly shocked to see such a pale, weak and sickly frame propped up against a mountain of pillows.’
    unhealthy, in poor health, chronically ill, often ill, always ill
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    1. 1.1 (of a person's complexion or expression) indicative of poor health.
      ‘his usual sickly pallor’
      • ‘Her figure was thin from undernourishment and her complexion a morose sickly gray.’
      • ‘Her sun baked skin had deteriorated to a grey, sickly pallor and her eyes had lost its bright sparkle.’
      • ‘The sun never made quite an effect on him, resulting in a sickly pale complexion, which was the basis of many a taunt.’
      • ‘Not only that, but his formerly vibrant face was now marred by a sickly pallor and shadows under his eyes.’
      • ‘When I was a baby, my eyes were as black as my hair and I recall my brothers calling me sickly for my pale pallor, though I was never ill.’
      • ‘This King, of course, was a sickly neurotic, whom every day brought nearer to complete mental disability.’
      • ‘If there was anything to be salvaged from the situation, it might've been said to have been worth it for the sickly expression on Rupert's face.’
      • ‘He was described as having ‘a sickly, pasty complexion’.’
      • ‘Looking over, he saw a sickly, shocked expression on Jack's face.’
      • ‘He needed a shave, his complexion was pale and sickly and he looked drastically deprived of sleep.’
      • ‘She could have easily passed for a corpse, complete with a sickly pale complexion and dark circles under blood-shot eyes.’
      • ‘Haru finally stated matter-of-factly; his face appearing childish from the sickly, sleepy expression he was wearing.’
      pale, wan, pasty, colourless, sallow, pallid, white, waxen, ashen
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    2. 1.2literary (of a place or climate) causing or characterized by unhealthiness.
      ‘a sickly vaporous swamp’
      • ‘The yellow street lights caused the world to glow sickly as he moved through the downtown South District.’
      • ‘As his skin blackened, a sickly aroma exploded throughout the alley.’
      • ‘Aaron went back to his sickly field and farmhouse.’
      • ‘The only sort of eye to be found in Dunham's paintings puts in an appearance in Beautiful Dirt Valley: the disembodied eye of heaven hovering in a sickly sky.’
      • ‘Variations in vineyard temperatures deliver flavours ranging from apples to tinned pineapple or, in extreme circumstances, to sickly shrivelled sultanas.’
      • ‘In the corner of his room a sickly yellow glow was permeating through his wall, passing though it and away.’
      • ‘Without them the place was sickly quiet, but Adam was too tired to do anything about it.’
      • ‘So a bit of help from the sickly oil fields themselves is welcome.’
  • 2(of a flavour, smell, colour, etc.) unpleasant in a way that induces discomfort or nausea.

    ‘the walls were painted a sickly green’
    ‘she liked her coffee sweet and sickly’
    • ‘I've had a lot of anticlimactic hot chocolate drinks lately: they're all syrupy, sickly and goopy.’
    • ‘He feels like himself, but is trapped in a dog's body, describing in graphic detail the many pungent, metallic, meaty and sickly smells all around him.’
    • ‘There was a sickly sweet smell that surrounded it.’
    • ‘I enjoyed my creme brûlée, although the excess sugar was a bit sickly.’
    • ‘Bright white and blue flowers bloomed from them and smelled almost sickly sweet.’
    • ‘There was a sickly sweet smell surrounding them.’
    • ‘In this state they contain small amounts of a poisonous alkaloid, and have a sickly, unpleasant smell and taste.’
    • ‘It was soupy and gloopy, sickly and sour, and downright wonderful.’
    • ‘When a bug has fed it emits a sickly sweet smell to attract hungry relatives: a giveaway sign of infestation.’
    • ‘Usually I hated the sickly smell of vanilla but today it was soothing.’
    • ‘His normally pale skin was a sickly green colour with a glistening sheen of sweat, his hair flopped lifelessly as the ship lurched from side to side, his eyes were drooping and he looked exhausted.’
    • ‘Just round the corner we pass Camden Market, a hypermarket of henna and hemp, where the pavements are packed and there's a rather different sickly sweet smell in the air.’
    • ‘Her pale face stood out against the warm, creamy colours of the pillows and sheets, some of the smaller bruises starting to turn the sickly colour of yellow and brown.’
    • ‘The sickly sweet smell is inescapable at local rock shows…’
    • ‘The walls were the same sickly colour, the smell was the same of dense human aromas, and my feelings of determination and acceptance were one and the same.’
    • ‘As I walked from work in the late winter Melbourne sunshine yesterday I smelled the sickly, sweet stench of death.’
    • ‘Flora saw her chance, lunged, and ripped into Moonlights chest and pulled out her heart, which was glowing a sickly purple.’
    • ‘I entered the school and was met by the sweet, sickly smell of flowers and the dead.’
    • ‘The atmosphere seemed stifling, the sweet, sickly smell in the air was unbearable.’
    bilious, nauseating, distasteful, unattractive
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    1. 2.1 Excessively sentimental or mawkish.
      ‘a sickly fable of delicate young lovers’
      • ‘The lyrics are so endearing, the sentiment so sickly sweet, that you can't help but sing along in faux earnest.’
      • ‘It displays the essence of Chopin's music that surely Fokine desired and rescues it from the sickly sentiment and yards of tulle that Les Sylphides usually heralds.’
      • ‘Hawley achieves the difficult task of walking the tightrope between sweet and sickly sweet, between sentiment and sentimentality.’
      • ‘I support you for the comments you made, and am glad you haven't retracted your views on the sickly sentimentality which is demeaning and undermining the true Britishness of our country.’
      • ‘Describing an object, sentiment or situation which is cute in a sickly, laughable, boring, old, shudderingly childish and overly sweet way.’
      • ‘Your Silent Nights and Joy to the Worlds manage to be special and festive without first being coated with a cubic kilometre of sickly sentimentality.’
      • ‘Behind all its smug hypocrisy and sickly sentimentality are the sinister outlines of the class war.’
      • ‘Those with an aversion to sickly sentiment should look away now.’
      • ‘When he asked the question, he shifted back to a patronising, sickly treacle-sweet voice.’
      • ‘‘Bon,’ Mademoiselle Piera said from the table, flashing Ryan her best sickly saccharine smile.’
      sentimental, over-sentimental, overemotional, mawkish, cloying, sugary, syrupy, saccharine, sickening, nauseating, maudlin, lachrymose, banal, trite
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Origin

Late Middle English: probably suggested by Old Norse sjúkligr.

Pronunciation

sickly

/ˈsɪkli/