Difference between Illness and Sickness | Illness vs Sickness

What’s the difference between ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’? Do they mean the same thing? Or is there a difference between these terms? When you say one has fallen ill, does it mean the same as someone who has fallen sick? Students face this confusion whenever they have to use the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ in a sentence. This article will ensure that the next time students use these words, they understand when and where to use them.

Not just the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ but the English Language has many words that often confuse students, and the main reason why students face confusions while dealing with such words is that they don’t know how those words are different from one another. This article will highlight the difference between ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ and ensure students don’t get confused while using them. This article will discuss the following topics to clear all the confusion.

Table Summarising the Difference between Illness and Sickness

Illness Sickness
Meaning The word ‘illness’ means an ailment that affects one’s mind and body. The word sickness is any condition that might not be a medical condition. It also means being affected by a sense of discomfort.
Usage It is used as a Noun. It is used as a Noun.
Example My grandfather suffered from a long-term illness. Sai suffers from motion sickness.

Though the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ refer to situations where a person is suffering from discomfort that’s affecting them mentally or physically, these terms aren’t synonymous, and neither can they be used interchangeably. For students who often get confused between these words, this table will help them understand how the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ differ. Once they know the difference between these words, they can apply them in the correct contexts.

The Difference between Illness and Sickness – Meanings

When you use the word ‘illness’, it might refer to a short term or a long term ailment that affects a person’s body as well as mind. Illness can be chronic or acute or can be treatable with medicines. Headaches, common cold, and stomach aches are common types of illnesses that are generally short-termed and can be treated with medication at home. A person can also suffer from mental illness, and for that, they may need the intervention of psychologists or counsellors. All these types of illnesses are medical conditions. But when one uses the word ‘sickness’, it can refer to both a non-medical or a medical ailment depending on the context. Like pregnant women get morning sickness, i.e., they are overwhelmed by nausea in the first few months of pregnancy. Sometimes a person is said to be suffering from sickness from a society’s point of view, for example, ‘The people in Mrs. Samantha’s colony thought she was mentally sick as she didn’t talk with anyone.’ Once students get this point of difference, it will become easy for them to use these in sentences.

Examples of Illness and Sickness

The following examples will help students understand the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ quite clearly:

Illness – Mr. Charles was suffering from a long term illness before he succumbed yesterday. (noun)

Sickness – Morning sickness is a common problem noticed among pregnant women. (noun)

Illness and Sickness – Conclusion

In conclusion, though the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ mean ailments that affect human beings, they are not synonymous and can’t be used interchangeably. This article points out the difference between ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ to make it easy for students to put them in sentences. Also, BYJU’S offers various articles on many such ‘Differences Between Two Words’ that students often get confused with.


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