What Does [sic] Mean?

By Maeve Maddox - 2 minute read

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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.

For example, you might want to quote the printed introduction to a college catalog:

Maple Leaf College is well-known for it’s [sic] high academic standards.

Sic is the Latin word for “thus,” or “such.”

When John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln and jumped from the balcony to the stage of Ford’s Theatre, he is said to have shouted “Sic semper tyrannis!” He meant “that’s what tyrants get;” literally, “Thus always to tyrants.”

Another common Latin expression you might come across is sic transit gloria mundi. It means “thus passes the glory of the world.” It’s a thought that might occur as one stands by a crumbling pyramid or where the Twin Towers once stood in New York City.

Where I grew up, people who wanted a dog to attack said “sic ’em!” I’ve seen it in a dictionary spelled “sick,” as in “sick him!” This use is first recorded in 1845 and may come from a dialectal version of seek, “to look for” or “to pursue.”

[sic] in newspapers

Bernheimer wrote: “Salonen isn’t one of those conductors who pretends ( sic ) not to read criticism.” And “Salonen is not one of those lofty musicians who believes ( sic ) that art can survive in a vacuum.” — LA Times

Remembr speling?

Neither does our president. In his first tweet as POTUS — posted at 11:57 a.m. on Jan. 21 — @realDonaldTrump tweeted, “I am honered [sic] to serve you, the great American People, as your 45th President of the United States!” (He later deleted the message.) — LA Times

In the handwritten letter, Corbett writes to Bullock: “You could of (sic) had me today however you choose other people over me. I’ll be around as you know. I love you.” — USA Today

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110 Responses to “What Does [sic] Mean?”

  • Brettels

    Well it’s the wee hours of the morning and I’m trying to read a book instead i’m reading six years of comments about a 3 letter word that I wasn’t sure what it meant. I’ll never forget again.

    My kids always say “fully sic” as in great or awesome but i don’t think somehow this has any relevance to the conversation above. 😁

  • Pay Paul

    5 years later Rich, I know. But that was funny.

  • Nick

    [sic] also applies to incorrect statements of fact; it’s not limited to spelling errors.

  • Jesse

    Six years and counting! I found this thread when I wanted to confirm I was using [sic] correctly- which I wasn’t- I thought it was latin for “something like that” … for use when quoting the exact phrase wasn’t possible.

  • Ben

    I always believed it was “Said In Citation”

  • Robert

    In quotes with multiple spelling, grammatical, and factual errors, are more than one “[sic]” required; perhaps following each error and at the end of the entire quote? I ask because I have found it necessary to quote a new Oval Office resident whose error-filled “speeches” and tweets are surpassed by only his broken mind and the thoughts it produces.
    Additionally, should not a comma appear after the word “asks”, prior to the quotation, as such: Samm [sic] asks, “What does [sic] mean?”
    Wonderful site and community.

  • venqax

    This is amazing. I had no idea that sic was so mysterious to so many, or that so many thought it was an abbreviation or an acronym. Why? It’s not capitalized. “Statement as citated”? Seriously? Not, “stated it’s ced”? or “seen in cartoon”?

  • Brian

    (SIC) is just and elitist way draw attention to errors, and demean the person being quoted. To an elitist, how something is said, and the grammatically accuracy, is much more important than the intended meaning of what is being said. I have met many blue collar workers who can not spell, but their wisdom is far beyond writers quoting them with (SIC). We do not need (SIC), we have “quotes”….aint that kind the point of the quotes…… I left many errors above so the elitists here can use (SIC), when quoting me 🙂

  • Ramesh kumar Shrivastava

    I think that the original text should be stated first by post-fixing the latin word sic within bracket.Henceforth original may be corrected to make the sentence meaningful.

  • Rick

    Sick Transit? You on about my van??

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