Words for Feeling Unwell

British Versus Singaporean




After 6 months of work, you are entitled to 14 days of non-hospitalisation sick leave and 60 days of hospitalisation leave. All sick leave must be certified by a medical officer or a doctor, this is known as a Medical Certificate (MC).

What to say if you are feeling unwell:


Feeling sick



Employees only need a fit note from a doctor after 7 days off work sick and have the right to use their statutory holiday entitlement during their sickness. Employees must give their employer a doctor’s ‘fit note’ (previously called a ‘sick note’)

The Brits have a fine array of slang terms for feeling unwell:

Under the weather

Feeling rough

“I’m feeling so rough today”


“I’m very poorly today”

Lurgy [ler-gee]

An undisclosed illness, probably of a viral nature.

“I can’t come out to play today, I’ve got the dreaded lurgy”

Dicky [di-kee]

Derived from rhyming slang, where Tom Dick = sick. A dicky tummy is one that is suffering with the effects of food poisoning.

“I probably shouldn’t come to work today sir, I’ve still got a bit of a dicky tum from the weekend.”

Gammy [ga-mee]

A catch-all term for an injured limb, most commonly used when the injury is permanent or has lasted a long time.

“How’s your gammy leg?

Gyp [jip]

A long-term discomfort or even pain, like blisters and sprains.

“This leg is giving me gyp”


A general sense of things not being well that can occur at the beginning or the end of a period of illness.

“Hey, how are you doing? Still feeling a bit iffy?”


“I didn’t really fancy anything to eat. I’ve been off-colour since that dodgy kebab last night.”

Ropey [roh-pee]

Worse than dicky, iffy, off-colour and poorly. Indicates that you’re still far too unwell to even attempt to get out of bed.

“Sorry, Clair can’t come to the phone right now, she’s still feeling really ropey.”


Is there an inverse relationship between a relaxed sick-leave law and the amount of terms used for excuses?

Leave a Reply

Scroll to top