Sic is a word that you sometimes see in a quoted sentence within an article. What does sic mean?
Usually, writers put the word sic after a quoted or copied word that looks wrong or odd. It shows that the writer copied the exact word from the source, even though it is wrong. Sic is commonly italicized and enclosed in brackets, following the incorrect word., e.g. [sic] or (sic).
If you see sic after a word in a quoted text, it points out a grammatical or spelling error. It means that the text was quoted or copied as is and that the mistake can be seen or read in the source. Sic is a Latin word that means ‘thus’ or ‘so.’
If an author of an article is quoting something that someone wrote, it is important to include the exact quote, even if there was a spelling or grammar error. For example, let’s say a quoted sentence an author wants to include is “they made there beds.” The incorrect word “there” should be “their”; however, if the journalist wants to include the exact quote, even including the spelling error, the journalist would write, “they made there [sic] beds.”
Read on to learn more about the meaning of sic and how it should be used in a sentence.
What Does Sic Mean?
Usually, you can use sic to mark a grammatically incorrect word. You often see the word sic enclosed in brackets after a word in a quoted sentence. So, when you see the word sic after a word, the writer copied the word from the source.
What does (sic) mean? It means there is a grammatical or spelling error in the quoted sentence. The author wants you to know that he copied the grammatically incorrect quoted word from the source.
Sic short for sic erat scriptum translates to ‘thus it had been written,’ which writers have used since the nineteenth century. Basically, writers use this phrase to point out misspelled, improperly punctuated, erroneous, or grammatically incorrect words.
So, it tells the readers that the author did not write the sentence this way. They are showing the readers that they know it is an error. The author also shows that they know better than correct the error from a direct quotation attributed to another person.
What does [sic] mean? In reality, sic does not mean anything but to mark an erroneous word in a text. Sic is not really an acronym, and it is unclear if it is really an abbreviation. But many people assume that it is an acronym, so they believe that it stands for ‘spelled in context.’
This is not technically correct, though. However, if it helps you remember its meaning, there’s no wrong in thinking of it this way.
What Does It Mean When You See Sic in a Sentence?
Every time you see sic in a sentence, the text is a direct quote from a source. There are times when a writer wants to quote a sentence that contains spelling mistakes or grammatical errors. When using a direct quote, it is wrong for a writer to change or correct the error.
A writer has to write the quoted text verbatim. So, if you see sic in a text, it indicates the following:
- The current author saw the error, it is not the current writer who committed it, but the original quoted source did it.
- It shows the reader that the quoted text was exactly how it was written as it appeared on the page or screen of the source.
- If seen in a document, the word sic means that the writer or author committed the error in the quoted source.
Where Do You Usually Find Sic in Writing?
What does sic mean after a word? You will encounter the word sic many times if you are a regular reader of books, newspapers, articles, and even the internet.
Here are some of the usual places where writers usually use it:
Newspapers are just a collection of news articles from news reporters, news editors, and news copywriters. These people often quote other articles, books, and news reports written by other people.
Writers might come across misspellings and grammatical errors as they do their work. To deflect readers’ criticisms for their news reports and articles, they have to use sic for every grammatical error or wrong spelling they will quote.
So, you will see sic many times in your local and international news broadsheets and online news sources. Here are some samples:
From the LA Times: “Salonen isn’t one of those conductors who pretends (sic) not to read criticism.” As you can see, this is a grammatical error. Since conductors are plural, the verb must conform. It should not be ‘pretends’ but ‘pretend.’
From a Tweet quoted by the LA Times: “Trump tweeted I am honered [sic] to serve you.” This is a misspelling of the past tense of honor.
From USA Today: Corbett writes to Bullock: “You could of (sic) had me today however you choose other people over me.” This is another grammatical error. Instead of ‘of,’ Bullock could just have written ‘have.’
2. Social Media Posts
Social media sites are the opposite end of the formal sectors of academic writing and transcribed communication. You’ll notice that sic is often used on these sites. The reason is that memes have become very popular. However, those who create them often make grammatical and spelling errors.
When you see a post or a meme you agree with, you will want to share it with your network. But if there’s an error in it, you will not want others to think that you were the one who committed the mistake.
That’s where you can use sic to point out the errors, grammatical or spelling, which you did not make. It shows that you are aware of the error and that the source is the one who has an error.
3. Academic Writing
Most academic writings involve comprehensive secondary research. That is why academicians and students often use direct quotes in their writings. They can also paraphrase direct quotes. But there are instances where they need to quote statements verbatim to lend credence to their texts.
So, you will often see sic in most research papers. Most academic journal articles would have many sic words in them, with medical research papers, engineering, and other technological research documents.
4. Transcribed Communication
You will also see sic in documents and papers that transcribe spoken communication. Examples are the transcriptions of legal proceedings such as testimony before Congress, court proceedings, and depositions. Therefore, the person in charge of transcription has to do it verbatim.
Transcriptions of speeches, meetings of shareholders, and other formal proceedings need to have a precise written record of what was discussed. The objective of the verbatim transcription is to create an exact record of the things said. The person in charge has to record everything, including all the mistakes.
Different Ways of Using Sic
You can use sic in different ways. There is no strict rule as to how you can use sic. Most often, sic is inside a parenthesis. You can italicize it without any brackets or parenthesis. However you choose to write it, it will always mean the same thing.
For instance, if you want to quote a statement from a source that contains “its” instead of an “it’s,” you could indicate it is an error from the original source in one of the following methods:
- “Its sic cold outside.”
- “Its (sic) cold outside.”
- “Its [sic] cold outside.”
When to Use Sic
Journalists often use sic to quote text from other sources or stories that have typo errors in them. In today’s crazy social media generation, it is common for them to use sic when they quote comments on Facebook posts and tweets on Twitter in their news articles.
You must also use sic if you are writing an academic paper. Typo and grammatical errors can call into question the validity of your arguments or thesis and the integrity of your entire paper. Every error in your source must be clearly defined as not yours, but the original’s no matter how small or inconsequential the error is.
Many readers, writers, authors, and editors agree that it is never wrong to be pedantic when using sic. These people say that no matter how petty the error is, you should point it out if you don’t want the mistake attributed to you.
However, some believe that you should use sic sparingly. This advice comes from Garner’s Modern American Usage. This guide says that to use sic routinely may reveal more about you than the writer or text being quoted. The advice given is to use sic only when it is essential to do so.
What’s the Reason for This Approach?
Garner says that using it often in your writings will give the impression that “you know better” at the original author’s expense. There are times that you really need to point out the mistakes. But it should not be all the time, so says Garner.
You also need to consider differences in spellings for certain words in some countries, in certain periods, and in some cultures. For instance, many words have the same meanings but have different British English and American English spellings. In this respect, it is best to use sic sparingly.
Should You Use Sic?
Remember that sic draws out the attention of the reader to misspelled, misused, or unusual words. But it is not always appropriate to mark them out when quoting someone. The whole thing depends on what you are writing and your relationship with the person you are quoting.
When writing an academic paper or a news report, it is appropriate to add sic to questionable words. Accuracy of what is written is a priority here. But in other instances, it is better to use a safer alternative to sic.
These cases could include quoting the words of a person you admire. They may be offended if you point out their mistakes. You don’t want that kind of reaction from someone you like, would you?
Another situation is when you are quoting from your customers about their experiences in using your products. You would not want to offend them by using sic every time they make a grammatical or spelling error. They won’t patronize your products if you insist on doing it.
There are times when using sic distracts the message that you want your audience to understand. You can’t get your message across if you always put sic in your quoted texts.
There are many trivia about sic that most people don’t know. If you know them, you will be better able to use sic in your writings:
What Is the Meaning of Sic in Social Media?
In social media, sic means “Indication of a Written Mistake.” This is how Instagram, Twitter, WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Facebook define this word.
Is Sic an Abbreviated Word?
Many have assumed that sic is an abbreviation of a real word. No, it is not an abbreviated word. Sic is a Latin adverb used in the English language as an adverb, a noun, and a verb. This word first appeared in the English language in 1856. Its original meaning is “intentionally so written.”
Is It Rude to Use Sic?
The Columbia Guide to Standard American English has this to say about using sic: the word “maybe defensive, but its overuse is offensive.”
Do You Write Sic Inside or Outside Quotes?
The correct placement of sic is after the erroneous word. If there are many errors in the quote, sic is placed at the end of the quote. It should still be within the quotation marks. You can also italicize sic but not the erroneous word or the whole quote.
Conclusion: What Does (Sic) Mean?
If you see, sic, (sic), or [sic], after a word in a quoted or copied sentence, it marks the word as wrong or odd. That means the word is quoted as-is from the source – including any spelling or grammar mistakes.
This word signifies that there is a grammatical or spelling error in the sentence. The author of the article used it to point out that they copied or quoted the text as found in the source. Sic is a Latin word that actually means ‘so’ or ‘thus.’