Words: sic, adv. and v.

IF THERE are few greater pleasures in life than smiling and affixing [sic] to somebody's ineptitude, nothing is more galling than not understanding why others have done so.

The Latin has a resonance which pales the English thus. It was around before the OED's first example (one of Sweet's Anglo-Saxon primers, 1887). Jessica Mitford did not care for it ("the reader who is fastidious about usage will have to supply his own sics") and Ernest Bax's 1889 verb did not take off: "the modern reviewer's taste is not really shocked by half the things he sics".

Absent from the OED is the American usage, to set. As Miles Davis grumbled: "She didn't have to sic those lawyers on me like she did, trying to serve me divorce papers everywhere I went."

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