“Call In Sick” Versus “Call Out Sick” (Versus “Call Off Sick”)

A reader asked about the phrase “to call out sick,” which I had never heard, so I suspected it is a regionalism. I posted a simple message on my Grammar Girl Facebook page asking people to let me know what the phrase is where they live, and I got an amazing 145+ responses in less than a day (with some people reporting on multiple regions where they¬† had lived or worked). I was inspired to compile it all into a map, which you will find below. (Ta da!)

Red = call in sick
Yellow = call out sick
Green = call off sick
Blue = mixed

Click the map to go to the larger, interactive Google map.


I noticed a few interesting things as I was entering the data:

  • “Calling out sick” seems to be most common in New York, New Jersey, and Florida, although it is heard in other places.
  • People in Texas all just said they live in Texas instead of giving me a city. That struck me as odd, since Texas is such a big state.
  • A few people noted that they had seen a difference between different companies in their city. It may be that corporate culture or traditions have as much to do with this as regional differences. [UPDATE 08/12/09: After reading your additional comments, I’m even more convinced corporate culture plays a part in this, although there are clearly regional differences too.]

If you haven’t contributed to the map yet, leave a comment and I’ll add a pin for you.

Remember, this is an unscientific survey that to date only includes people who were Grammar Girl fans on Facebook. It may have all kinds of biases! [Added 8/10/09, 11:25 am: As some people have noted, the way I originally asked the question could have skewed the responses too because it may have sounded like I only wanted¬† people to respond if they said “call out sick.”]

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58 Responses to “Call In Sick” Versus “Call Out Sick” (Versus “Call Off Sick”)

  1. Kelly says:

    Call in sick.

    Tucson, AZ

  2. Sheryl Baxter says:

    Call In Sick
    Mackinac Island, Michigan

  3. Julie Dobkin says:

    Call-in sick :-}

  4. Julie Dobkin says:

    Call-in sick. Sorry I forgot my location last post, :-\

    Oakland, CA

  5. Amy Taylor says:

    The company I work for uses the phrase, “call out sick.”
    I am in Scottsdale, Arizona; my company headquarters are on the east coast.

  6. Mrs. Grobe says:

    Grew up in/live in: Brattleboro, Vermont
    Call in sick (cause you are “calling in” to the office)
    My husband and I both would say this. (He lived in Germany and Schenectady, NY with a mom who grew up in Schenectady.)

  7. Mrs. Grobe says:

    And either you have no followers in Montana and Wyoming, or they don’t get sick there.

  8. debruycker says:

    Love the map too! “call in sick” would be the term used in Montana

Comments are closed.