sickly

1 of 3

adjective

sick·​ly ˈsi-klē How to pronounce sickly (audio)
1
: somewhat unwell
also : habitually ailing
2
: produced by or associated with sickness
a sickly complexion
a sickly appetite
3
: producing or tending to produce disease : unwholesome
a sickly climate
4
a
: appearing as if sick
b
: lacking in vigor : weak
a sickly plant
5
: sickening
a sickly odor
sickliness noun

sickly

2 of 3

adverb

sicklier; sickliest
: in a manner indicating, causing, or suggestive of sickness
Walking blindly, every step making him sick with pain, he … covered his face as much as he could, and struggled sickly along.D. H. Lawrence
His face turned a sickly shade of yellow.Rick Riordan
sometimes used figuratively
Nick was the perfect boy for me. We were that sickly-sweet couple who never fought.Sara Harari

sickly

3 of 3

verb

sicklied; sicklying; sicklies

transitive verb

: to make sick or sickly

Examples of sickly in a Sentence

Adjective The walls were painted a sickly yellow. The lamp gave off a sickly glow.
Recent Examples on the Web
Adjective
Just over a year later, the heartbroken pet owner learned her sickly companion was never actually put to sleep. Zoey Lyttle, Peoplemag, 29 May 2024 The parking lot smelled of a smokey, sickly bitter odor. James Hartley, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 26 May 2024
Adverb
Beans withered on the vine; carrots came out of the soil sickly and without crunch. Hazlitt, 6 Sep. 2023 The inarguable center of the image is another gruesome mouth, but most of the square footage belongs to a pale, sickly yellow that reinforces the mood without overwhelming it. Jackson Arn, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023
Verb
And Jessie is stubbornly clinging to the only remedy that seems to help sickly Thomas at all: blood. Kolbie Peterson, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 Jan. 2022 There is something unsavory, even sickly about the artist, something not entirely on the side of life. New York Times, 17 Sep. 2021 See all Example Sentences for sickly 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sickly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adverb

1572, in the meaning defined above

Verb

1763, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sickly was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near sickly

Cite this Entry

“Sickly.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sickly. Accessed 17 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

sickly

adjective
sick·​ly
ˈsik-lē
sicklier; sickliest
1
: somewhat sick : often ailing
was sickly as a child
2
: caused by or associated with ill health
a sickly complexion
3
a
: tending to produce disease
a sickly climate
b
: appearing as if sick
a sickly flame
c
: not growing well :
a sickly plant
d
: sickening
a sickly odor

Medical Definition

sickly

adjective
sick·​ly ˈsik-lē How to pronounce sickly (audio)
1
: somewhat unwell
also : habitually ailing
a sickly child
2
: produced by or associated with sickness
a sickly complexion
3
: producing or tending to produce disease
a sickly climate
4
: tending to produce nausea
a sickly odor

More from Merriam-Webster on sickly

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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