For a long time, I understood [sic] to mean said in context, but I was told that that said in context is really a backronym. Fair enough.


However, I'd like occasionally to be able to say something unusual/unexpected/perverse/incorrect but add some sort of note to indicated that is not my usual choice of word(s), but has been said in the context or the spirit of the preceding communication.

Specifically, I'm wanting to say something fairly un-PC, using a deliberately anachronistic and inappropriate term, purely for effect. It will fit within the context of the discussion, but technically, [sic] won't excuse me or shield me from the accusation that the words are my usual choice.

Usually [sic] is used when you are reproducing an error or mistake of someone else, but I'm not quoting anyone - I'm using a term that fits the spirit of the conversation, but nobody has actually uttered the phrase previously.

Is there a better mechanism I can use? Or should I technically mis-use [sic] on the presumption that most people will understand what I meant?


I don't really want to repeat the conversation verbatim, but to give you an idea, the exact usage was:

...that David Cameron isn't apparently keen on starting wars and sticking-it to some fuzzy wuzzies

It's related to David Cameron's 'multicultural' speech. I'm using fuzzy wuzzies particularly to evoke the image of an old (bigoted) colonial attitude to johnny foreigner. This might be a very UK-centric angle, but for those of you who have seen Blackadder IV, consider Stephen Fry's General Melchet or Geoffrey Palmer's General Haig.

If I was quoting something that was said by a person or a character, [sic] would fit perfectly. But since I'm quoting a stereotype or caricature, the issue is less clear cut.

Clearly, fuzzy wuzzies is not a term I would ordinarily use, but it makes sense when said in the context of the conversation. So I'm looking for a means to quickly indicate this... [sic] definitely isn't appropriate but the said in context backronym perhaps is.

Perhaps I simply say ...sticking-it to some *fuzzy wuzzies* (said in context)?

  • 1
    It would be useful if you gave a couple of examples of the sort of sentence you mean. Feb 7, 2011 at 5:46
  • Ugh, "said in context".
    – Alenanno
    Aug 17, 2012 at 13:26
  • Erm, not "said in context" but "sic erat scriptum" = "thus it was written". en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sic
    – Ben
    May 27, 2014 at 16:33

8 Answers 8


I'm a fan of as it were and in the vernacular for these purposes.


You would definitely not use sic, which is

used in brackets after a copied or quoted word that appears odd or erroneous to show that the word is quoted exactly as it stands in the original [Webster's]

When you are writing your own words, you are not quoting anything, and there is no original apart from what is on the page or screen you are using to compose your words.

Now, your stated intention is

... to say something fairly un-PC, using a deliberately anachronistic and inappropriate term, purely for effect.

The truth? There isn't going to be any word you could use to distance yourself from the effect of your own use of language in this case, nothing that is going to excuse your behavior in the eyes of people who are going to be offended by it. My advice is to either man up and take the heat if you really feel a need to express yourself in this way, or else leave that section out. And unless you're truly prepared to alienate people, the latter choice is the smart one.

  • +1. If you’re saying something provocative, then either you should be prepared to defend it, or you should be saying something else. Quoting, paraphrasing, or imitating someone else’s usage? If you’re dispassionately discussing or even actively condemning it, then you probably should be sticking closely enough to it that you can accurately say sic; but if you’re borrowing it for effect, then you can’t honestly pass on the blame for the offence — you need to be ready to defend it as your own usage.
    – PLL
    Feb 7, 2011 at 4:00
  • Yup, "purely for effect": so put up with the effects :)
    – Benjol
    Feb 7, 2011 at 7:33
  • I take your point, but I hope that my additional explanation will clear the issue up a little. I'm not trying to say something provocative/offensive and avoid the heat, as such. It's highly unlikely that anyone will be offended, since the majority of participants will understand the context - however, it does no harm to try explicitly indicate that the words do not reflect my personal opinion.
    – CJM
    Feb 7, 2011 at 10:45

Not sure if this really fills the bill, but if you're saying something unusual and want to draw attention to the fact that you're speaking metaphorically, adding "so to speak" on the end might be a way to go:

It was like french-kissing your cousin's hairy armpit... so to speak.


You can also use scare quotes ("…") in some of those contexts — to distance yourself from the thing within quotation marks. (This runs the risk of being misinterpreted as a direct quotation, but you can probably live with that.)

Your sentence, in the form

…that David Cameron isn't apparently keen on starting wars and sticking-it to some "fuzzy wuzzies".

would make it clear that "fuzzy wuzzies" is not "your" word, and something that may conceivably be spoken by someone of Cameron's way of thinking.


Another phrase used in this context: "Pardon my French."

  • Pardon my French is a little exaggerated, if who speaks/writes is not swearing. It could have a different effect, if who listens/reads doesn't understand the exaggeration.
    – apaderno
    Feb 7, 2011 at 6:29
  • 2
    I'd use pardon my french when wanting to excuse swearing-for-effect, but it doesn't quite fit my current example.
    – CJM
    Feb 7, 2011 at 10:20

It's still not really clear what you want, but a possible alternative is using cough. Can't find a good example of using that, unfortunately (CW in case someone else can).


If you are quoting someone, you could attribute it properly:

Sticking it to some "fuzzy-wuzzies", as Corporal Jones would say.

Or say "to use his words":

Sticking it to some "fuzzy-wuzzies", to use his words.

Or "quote-unquote" is used informally to indicate that you are quoting directly:

Sticking it to some "fuzzy-wuzzies" - quote-unquote.

Sticking it to some - quote - "fuzzy-wuzzies" - unquote.

Or be more formal:

Sticking it to some - and I am quoting directly - "fuzzy-wuzzies".

If it is not a direct quote, but you are for example trying to add flavour or colour by using expressions you would not ordinarily use, the expression is "so to speak".

Sticking it to some fuzzy-wuzzies, so to speak.

If it is a common expression, but not one you would use:

Sticking it to some "fuzzy-wuzzies", as the expression is.

Sticking it to some "fuzzy-wuzzies", as the saying goes.

Sticking it to some "fuzzy-wuzzies", as they say.

  • 1
    Ah. Corporal Jones. "They don't like it up 'em!"
    – Andrew Leach
    May 27, 2014 at 16:53

How about using "so called...."? (It really depends on the context of your utterance, so it's a little difficult to offer concrete suggestions without more information)

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