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Ever heard somebody tell their dog to "sic"/"sick" somebody? Yeah that's not what this is about.

"sic" is frequently seen in brackets (both round or square) as an editorial reference to a semantic or lexical mistake. It's more likely seen in academic literature, but can be seen in daily publications. While the term is Latin, it means "that's how it appears in the original." If a newspaper was quoting another publication and wanted to avoid being blamed for the typo, they would throw in a bracketed sic next to the typo.

President Barack Obama looks to a little boy sticking out his tong (sic) as he holds him during a visit members (sic) of the military and their families during Christmas dinner at Anderson Hall on Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe, Hawaii Saturday, Dec. 25, 2010. The first family is in Hawaii for the holidays. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

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.” (Daily Writing)

The use of (sic) is not typically taught in the American secondary school system. In fact, the first time I even understood why there was a "sic" in an editorial piece I was reading was in fact just before posting this. Two years into a television reporting career. Not one time was this referenced in any of my media or journalism classes at Weber State University, and it astonishes me.

"I don't believe for a minute that the vast majority of Americans are prepared to accept defeat, to retreat in the face of terror, to turn over Iran (sic) or Afghanistan to the likes of Osama bin Laden." -Dick Cheney.

The blatant error here is that Cheney inappropriately replaced Iraq by Iran. And, for obvious reasons, something as small as Q vs. N confusion could have devestating(sic) repurcussions(sic). The (sic) indication therefore seeks to inform the readers that not only has the error has been committed, but that it is a known error. (Arrogant Blog)

The above blockquote is from a blog, but I've ironically added two of my own (sic)s next to his misspellings.


User comments:
(r) wertperch says re sic: Have found the same thing - underused by too many people.Is a useful concept,this!
(r) raincomplex says re sic: nice writeup. also that blog quote is hilarious.
(r) rp says re sic: i've never seen quotes surrounding sic, only brackets and possibly an exclamation point
(r) mcd says re sic: "seeks to inform the readers that not only has the error has been committed" You might need another ironic sic in there, as the error here looks to come from the blog-author. Nice informative writeup. In my youth I always thought it was an acronym for, "Spelling In Context".