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 thing as someone has fallen sick? Students face all this confusion when they have to use the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ in a sentence. The article will make sure that the next time students use these words, they understand when and where to use the words.

Not just the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ but the English Language have many words that often confuse students. And the main reason why students face confusion while dealing with such words is that they don’t know how those words are different from one another. This article will point out the difference between ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’ and will ensure the students don’t get confused while using them. The following topics will be discussed in this article to clear all the confusion.

  • Table Summarising the Difference between Illness and Sickness
  • The Difference between Illness and Sickness – Meaning
  • Example of Illness and Sickness
  • Illness and Sickness – Conclusion

Table Summarising the Difference between Illness and Sickness




The word illness means an ailment that affects one’s mind and body.

The word sickness is used from society’s point of view on any condition that might not be a medical condition. It also means being affected by the sense of discomfort.


It is used as a Noun.

It is used as a Noun.


My grandfather suffered from a long term illness.

Sai suffers from motion sickness.

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

The Difference between Illness and Sickness – Meaning

When you use the word ‘illness’, it might refer to a short term to 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. Like headaches, common cold, stomach aches are common types of illness that are generally short-termed and can be treated with medicines 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. 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 the 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 them in sentences.

Example of Illness and Sickness

The following example 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)

Once students understand the difference between the words ‘illness’ and ‘sickness’, they can easily apply them in the proper context.

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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