Sick as a parrot?

Mike Salovesh t20mxs1 at CORN.CSO.NIU.EDU
Thu Jun 29 07:58:50 UTC 2000

Michael Quinion's Web site, WORLD WIDE WORDS
<>, carries an article on "sick as a dog".
The article ends with this comment:

The modern sick as a parrot recorded from the 1970s - at one time much
overused by British sportsmen as the opposite of over the moon - refers
to a state of deep mental depression rather than physical illness; this
perhaps comes from instances of parrots contracting psittacosis and
passing it to their human owners.

-- from WORLD WIDE WORDS, copyright (c) Michael B Quinion 2000

Dear Michael Quinion:

"Sick as a parrot" could be a reference to the Monty Python sketch on
the dead parrot. Your suggested date (though a little broad) might be a
hint at confirmation. If Monty Python is the source, then I wouldn't be
surprised that someone described the condition as a state of deep mental

The phrase would be a reasonable parallel to the classic "We had to bury
him.  Dead, you know."  Its extended form would be something like

"This parrot's just sick.  Deeply depressed. He wants cheering up."

"No, he isn't depressed, he's dead.  You've nailed his feet to the

Thank you for mentioning World Wide Words in your recent message to the
American Dialect Society mailing list.  It tempted me into a dive into
your Web site, and I didn't come up for an hour.  I'll be back: it's an
enjoyable experience.

Have fun on your vacation!

-- mike salovesh  <salovesh at>   PEACE !!!

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