Some conditions require that a person lie in bed all the time until recovered. Is there a name for such conditions or people experiencing them at the moment?

For example,

I am currently <bed sick> and can't help you with your homework.

I tried looking for bed sick but hit a dead end.

  • 4
    I've heard bedsick before, as well as bed ridden (which only explicitly states one is confined to bed, and implies because I'm sick or injured).
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 4, 2014 at 12:10
  • 2
    No, those are generally temporary, esp bedsick. Bedridden is also generally temporary, except when it's applied to a geriatric who is now too weak to stand (but is more typically applies to someone who has a serious illness or physical injury which prevents his arising). The words invalid and incapacitated connote a more permanent condition. See also laid up, which I'll post as an answer
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 4, 2014 at 12:13
  • 15
    I've never come across bedsick before, and it's too rare to chart in NGrams. But although as that chart shows, bedridden is overwhelmingly the more common term, bedbound (which I would also use) does occur reasonably often. Nov 4, 2014 at 13:15
  • 1
    I agree with @FumbleFingers, growing up in Australia, bedridden appears to be the more common term. I've also hear bedbound a lot but not as much as bedridden.
    – jay_t55
    Nov 4, 2014 at 15:02
  • 1
    Generally sick and lying in bed (or "I'm sick in bed"), though "bedridden" is the normal US term for someone who is chronically confined to bed.
    – Hot Licks
    Nov 4, 2014 at 17:24

13 Answers 13


bedridden (ˈbɛdˌrɪd n) TFD

adj. confined to bed from illness.

Try this one on for size.

I am currently bedridden and can't help you with your homework.

  • 9
    'Bedridden' is possible. My own view, conformed by the Collins online dictionary, is that 'bedridden suggests a long term of confinement to bed.
    – tunny
    Nov 4, 2014 at 12:31
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    True that. Thankfully, "Some conditions require that a person lie in bed all the time until recovered." does not imply a strict timespan for the patient's recovery, therefore giving us the freedom to leverage words, depending on the context's formality, style and a touch of personal preference. Nov 4, 2014 at 12:44
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    I agree with @tunny: "bedridden" describes a chronic state, not a temporary one (which is presumably the condition described in the question).
    – Robusto
    Nov 4, 2014 at 13:07
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    Bedridden can be used for someone confined to bed because of old age also.
    – ermanen
    Nov 4, 2014 at 14:58
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    Bedridden is perfectly applicable. While more commonly used for conditions lasting more than a few days, there's no hard rule about that. If I'm near paralysed with back pain, that will last only a few days but I'm not getting out of bed except to crawl to the medicine cabinet for more painkillers (literally).
    – jwenting
    Nov 5, 2014 at 15:53

'Laid up' is possible. "I can't come in to work this morning. I am laid up with a bout of malaria".

  • +1 This seems to be what I'm looking for, although it sounds informal. Is it? If so, what would be a more formal equivalent? Nov 4, 2014 at 12:12
  • or alternatively 'laid low'. See idioms.thefreedictionary.com/lay+low
    – paul
    Nov 4, 2014 at 13:03
  • 1
    @paul: The definition your link provides doesn't imply lying in bed at all. Nov 4, 2014 at 13:05
  • @ArmenԾիրունյան - true. Could be laying low on the floor ;-)
    – paul
    Nov 4, 2014 at 13:24
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    In AmE "lying low" typically connotes hiding from somebody (often the police).
    – charlie
    Nov 4, 2014 at 15:04

As a native speaker, I might use bedridden for a period longer than several days, but the term is not often used in casual conversation. I would use "sick in bed" if it's just a few days, e.g:

I am currently sick in bed and can't help you with your homework.

"Laid up" isn't used very much where I live (New England). It's probably more common in other regions.

  • 5
    I've not heard "laid up", either, in (old) England, except to refer to disused ships Nov 5, 2014 at 9:00
  • 1
    indeed, "laid up" is used for describing ships awaiting scrapping, not people who're stuck in bed.
    – jwenting
    Nov 5, 2014 at 15:54

convalescing: to recover health and strength after illness; make progress toward recovery of health.
e.g., He was due to spend the next eight weeks convalescing

I am currently convalescing and can't help you with your homework.

Source: Dictionary.com

Subjective interpretation

If I were to hear that someone was bedridden; yes I would understand that person to be sick and to be in bed, but I would also presume it was a serious illness, more so if the person is not elderly and frail. I would naturally assume that the person is unable to work for some time, perhaps weeks or even months. To be confined to one's bed 24 hours a day suggests something is seriously the matter. If this reflects the OP's case, than that suggestion is the most fitting and appropriate.

To be laid up describes someone who is physically (not mentally) unable to do any work. It suggests an injury, and therefore a temporary state, and implies the person will return to work shortly. It's a phrasal verb; it's colloquial and very well-known (at least in BrEng). If an employer were to hear this over the phone, they may show concern, but not be unduly worried.

To be convalescing suggests that the person is no longer ill, but that the illness was a serious one. It suggests that the person is too weak to return to work, and needs absolute rest. This rest does not necessarily mean the person is confined to their bed 24 hours but neither does it exclude it. It depends on the illness or the injury subjected. A person who is convalescing is physically (and sometimes mentally) too weak to perform any strenuous task.

  • 5
    You are not necessarily in bed if you are convalescing.
    – tunny
    Nov 4, 2014 at 12:13
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    @tunny yeah, you're right. I'll leave it up anyway. It's a good word to know.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 4, 2014 at 12:21
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    No. The question asks for a word to use for somebody who is both ill and in bed. Convalescence refers to the period after illness, and is not necessarily done in bed so it fails on both points. Nov 4, 2014 at 12:54
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    @Mari-LouA "Somebody who is both ill and in bed is probably better off being in hospital." Absolutely not. Most people have no need whatsoever to go to hospital because of the 'flu or a bad cold or any number of other diseases that are kind of unpleasant but not dangerous. Many people who have such a disease choose to spend a lot of time in bed (or possibly don't have the energy to feel they have much of a choice in the matter). Nov 4, 2014 at 13:54
  • 1
    Keep in mind that someone who is convalescing is said to be convalescent. You might want to use that one instead.
    – Rag
    Nov 6, 2014 at 4:07

A sick person who is lying in bed is a bedridden fibber.

  • 1
    For our friends who are unfamiliar with fibber and the pun; a fibber is a liar, i.e. someone who tells lies. Someone who lies down (NOT lays down) is a person resting in a horizontal position.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 6, 2014 at 9:57
  • Lay and lie always gets me mixed up!
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 6, 2014 at 9:58
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    Even with the explanation that took me a few seconds to figure out but it still made me chuckle. +1
    – Mike G
    Nov 6, 2014 at 17:56
  • Clearer explanation: Lying= a person who is telling lies / a person who is resting in a horizontal position. :)
    – Mari-Lou A
    Nov 7, 2014 at 7:07

Sycamore Rockwell's suggestion of bedridden is one option, but in my experience, it carries a negative connotation and is rarely used to describe oneself.

A more neutral term, without these negative overtones, is on bed rest. This is most often used in connection with pregnancy, but in any context it carries the clear meaning that you've been instructed by a doctor not to get out of bed. To make it even clearer, you could be more explicit: The doctor put me on bed rest.

  • 1
    I don't agree with the bad connotations. It only means one thing: sick enough to be stuck in bed. I feel "bedridden" is definitely the most appropriate answer.
    – Octopus
    Nov 4, 2014 at 23:42
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    To me, "bedridden" carries connotations of permanence or, at least, a long-term condition. I'm not sure I'd describe somebody who's in bed for a couple of days because of the 'flu as "bedridden". Nov 5, 2014 at 8:59

The closest match for "confined to bed due to illness" is laid up, as in

Tom won't be in the office this week, he's laid up with the flu.

Also possible are literal bedsick (like you, I didn't find this word properly in a dictionary on a quick Google), and bedridden (which, as I note in the comments, strictly only denotes confined to bed, but typically connotes *due to illness or injury).


If you want to stick to the sickness only, you can consider this self-explanatory word: sick-abed.

sick-abed - confined to bed (by illness)


Note: It is used as sick abed also (unhyphenated).


Bear in mind that (at least in America) phrases such as I am currently bedridden or I am on bed rest might be perceived as inappropriately antiquated and/or inappropriately dramatic. The most normal way of announcing that you're sick would be something like

I am currently recovering from a flu* and won't be able to help you today.

(* – or whatever the illness seems to be. Other common options include "food poisoning" or "a bad cold".)

Or, especially in an office setting,

I'm out sick today and won't be able to help until tomorrow at the earliest.

Incidentally, some other too-dramatic terms for "a person who is confined to bed due to illness" include convalescent; invalid (which, as a noun, is pronounced "IN-vah-lid", as opposed to the usual adjective pronunciation of "in-VAA-lid"); and the more general incapacitated (as in "I am currently incapacitated by the flu and can't...")

  • 1
    +1 it's worth also mentioning the specific reasons why those terms are too dramatic: convalescent implies someone is slowly recovering from a very serious condition (e.g. after major surgery or cancer treatment), an invalid is someone with a long-term or permanent condition (but which is not necessarily terminal), and incapacitated implies someone has become physically unable to do things, temporarily or permanently - being incapacitated by flu implies it's so bad you actually can't get out of bed and need a carer to help you eat etc. Nov 6, 2014 at 12:58

Another option: invalid

"Invalid" does not carry the same inference that one is combined to bed, however, it does, in my experience seem to connote permanence of the state.


noun: invalid; plural noun: invalids

  1. A person make weak or disabled by illness or injury

For someone who isn't bedridden, but is confined to bed due to illness, complicated pregnancy, etc., the term "on bed rest" is useful, particularly when it is prescribed by a physician.


"Recumbent" is an appropriate term, like the type of bicycle.


Another option is infirm.

infirm: adj. Weak in body, especially from old age or disease; feeble.

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

While it doesn't specifically refer to being stuck in bed, infirmed does connotate a level of weakness that often greatly limits one's activity.

I am currently infirm and can't help you with your homework.

  • "Infirm" as an adjective can be used in this sense: "I am infirm." "Infirmed" as a verb is not idiomatic in any US or UK dialect I've ever heard.
    – chapka
    Nov 4, 2014 at 15:34
  • Huh. It seems you are correct but I though I had seen that usage.
    – DQdlM
    Nov 4, 2014 at 15:40
  • "Infirm" suggests a permanent or at least very long-term condition. If somebody can't help you with your homework because of infirmity, they'll probably never be able to help you again and I don't think that connotation is present in the question. Nov 5, 2014 at 8:57

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