I don’t feel so well…

Ugh, I hate being this way.

What way is that? I have a throbbing head, a massive sneeze that returns frequently enough to make my chest ache, a running nose (I didn’t tell it to go for a run, no idea where it got that notion!), at night a sore throat, and so on. I have a head cold.

To my UK friends, I’m poorly. To my US friends, I’m sick, or ill.

These aren’t reversible …

These don’t work the other way around, I note: I’m not sick to my UK friends, because sick to them is a direct replacement for the word vomit. “I had to clean up her sick” means “I had to clean up her vomit.” It’s not a synonym, which usually has a slightly different meaning or connotation (take car, which has a synonym of automobile, but automobile means many more things than just car – could mean a truck, etc).

I don’t know how other Americans use ill, but I picked it up as a slightly more elegant way of saying sick, with the same range of meanings: you’re sick or ill whether you have a head cold, pneumonia, cancer, or whatever; you have to use other words to convey which it is (I generally unimaginatively use the words head cold, pnuemonia, cancer, and so on). A few times I’ve said someone’s ill to my friends here, and they react with such concern that it’s as though the person in question is on their death bed. I now usually remember to not use ill.

A new American word for my current state has entered my awareness recently: puny. My aunt wrote in a letter recently: “I have been a little puny this week, but as the day goes by, I am doing better.” Then when I was on the phone to my grandmother, she used the word puny to describe my current state. So I think puny and poorly are the best match, but I don’t know how widespread puny is (in this meaning). I just don’t remember coming across it that much, but then, it’s not the kind of thing I paid much attention to until having to learn the new vocabulary for it.

But then, in a recent conversation, someone was talking about his father, who’d been in the hospital for 9 weeks before dying recently, very sad. He said, “… but by then, Dad was poorly,” referring to that 9 weeks. So poorly doesn’t always mean a mild illness, clearly.

Forget sick/poorly/etc. I’ve decided that I prefer to simply call my current self a snot monster.

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