In Persian we have a phrase, whose translation would be "in the bed of disease". It means when you are ill and resting in bed. Can we use the same in English? What are equivalent phrases?

  • 4
    The idiomatic standard in English is a hotbed of disease (or crime, unrest, intrigue, etc.). Where the disease is literal, but hotbed is a metaphoric usage meaning a place where disease, crime, etc. thrives / flourishes. As in a hothouse, where literal plants (or metaphoric pupils, children) might thrive. Sep 17, 2017 at 15:41
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    Note that enforced "bed-rest" (particularly if you're at least able to get up to use the toilet, etc., and even more particularly if you expect to fully recover soon) is often expressed by, for example, I'm laid up with a bad cold at the moment, but I should back at work by Monday. That avoids the "chronic/incurable invalid" associations of bedridden, and the somewhat "dated" quality of sick-bed. Sep 17, 2017 at 15:48
  • Of course, "on bed rest" is still current in certain situations (I was on hospital bed rest for 13 weeks when pregnant with twins; no other term quite captures the experience).
    – 1006a
    Sep 18, 2017 at 5:12
  • 8
    Please note that "a hotbed of disease", as suggested by @FumbleFingers, is idiomatic for a different meaning than what the OP is asking about. It would mean a place where a lot of disease exists (which makes you sick - not a place to linger), whereas the OP seems to be asking about the place where you rest while you're sick.
    – Soron
    Sep 18, 2017 at 17:08
  • The sick-bed is literally the bed in which you lie. If you are talking about the condition of being in bed due to sickness, the proper term is bed-ridden. Bed-ridden strongly implies a lack of choice in the matter.
    – Euan M
    Sep 19, 2017 at 10:41

6 Answers 6


The term in English is sick-bed or sickbed.

She lay in her sickbed, wracked by fever.

One of the duties of a pastor is to visit the sick-bed.

  • 1
    Native US, lived on Atlantic coast, midwest, and pacific NW. I have never heard this term before. @Jasper's bedridden is much more common in my experience.
    – MooseBoys
    Sep 18, 2017 at 6:25
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    I've seen and heard sick-bed hundreds of times... there's an example I was just looking at earlier today -- Rebecca Prime (an American film historian) used the phrase on p28 of "Hollywood Exiles in Europe: The Blacklist and Cold War Film Culture"
    – Glen_b
    Sep 18, 2017 at 6:33
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    As a native English speaker (Kent, South east England), I guarantee that "sickbed" is the closest idiomatic match, and is in widespread and common usage.
    – user62379
    Sep 18, 2017 at 9:21
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    This is a very common phrase in English English - but note that the word is "sickbed" and it isn't hyphenated. Sep 18, 2017 at 14:12
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    @MooseBoys -- "bedridden" is an adjective, and suggests (in my experience) being confined to bed permanently or chronically. You can be in your sickbed a single day. Sep 18, 2017 at 20:09

To be bedridden is having to be in bed because you are ill or injured. For example, Jason was bedridden for a year after the accident.

  • 1
    "Bedridden" implies a permanent or semi-permanent condition. "bed bound", as it were, I think that "sickbed" is probably a better equivalent. OP implied that the it was a transient condition.
    – Conor
    Sep 19, 2017 at 2:16
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    I've always thought you could be bedridden temporarily. If you just say "Susan is bedridden," that might imply a permanent or semi-permanent condition, but it would be fine to say "Joe has the flu and is bedridden for a few days." You could also just say "sick in bed" of course. Sep 19, 2017 at 7:58

Indeed, sickbed was a very common term in litterature especially around the times of Jane Austen, because people stayed at home in bed when they were ill, andoften in stories of kings the king lies on his sickbed/deathbed, historical famous scenes are often located at the deathbed and at the sickbed of a father or child.

Rather than using Latin to find new words for English, we normally add old words together, so we get riverbed, seedbed, flowerbed, hotbed, bedrobe, bedbug, bedroom.

There's an expression which sais: good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite, for children.

The concatenations are possible because of the stress-timed intonation, same as arabic and italian but different from french which is rythmic, and because of the soft consonants of R and W and GH in english which makes longer complex syllables which have less percussion sounds and more ambigious and transitional, i.e. compare latin percussive rythmic words like "conviviality" "sonically" "écouter" with english soft words like "humerous" "heard" "sound". the complex syllables means we can use less syllables than some other languages, because the syllables have varied sounds.



Using "[noun] of [modifier]" in English sounds poetic or theatrical to me - something that you might say to dramatically emphasize a point, more than something you'd use in normal speech. The more common ordering in day-to-day speech would be "[modifier] [noun]"; e.g., "sick-bed" (as other answers suggest), "winter flower", and so on.

With "bed of disease", there's also an ambiguity: "bed" can mean a place where something lives/grows, so without context I would find it hard to tell whether you mean "a place to rest from disease" or "a place where disease lives (or spreads from)".


Yes, you can say "the bed of disease" but it sounds archaic.

For example:

Family Worship (1841):

We cannot tell how soon we may be laid prostrate on the bed of disease and of death.

Richmond Enquirer (29 November 1811)

Mrs. Poe, lingering on the bed of disease and surrounded by her children...

Baptist Missionary Magazine (1835):

In all these things there was no failure; but to administer spiritual comfort, to pray beside the bed of disease, to guide the devotions or enliven the hearts of others...

Dealing with the Dead (1856):

Who would not wish to avoid that pain, which is reflected, for days, and weeks, and months, and years, from the faces of those we love, who watch, and weep, about the bed of disease and death !

  • "the bed of disease" (in British English) suggests the source of the disease outbreak. In this phrase the 'bed' is metaphorical.
    – charmer
    Sep 20, 2017 at 9:29
  • @charmer But that use is from the agricultural meaning of "hot bed", where microbe growth in organic matter heats the garden.
    – DavePhD
    Sep 20, 2017 at 12:21
  • that may be so - which is why said the use of the word 'bed' is metaphorical in that sense. in your answer all of the quotes are from 19th century writings: The use of the English language has changed quite a bit since 1856. I suspect that you won't find many similar usages of 'bed of disease' from the last 50 years and would much more likely find 'death bed' or 'sick bed' or similar in it's place.
    – charmer
    Sep 21, 2017 at 11:26
  • @charmer yes, that's why I say it "sounds archaic" in the answer
    – DavePhD
    Sep 21, 2017 at 11:40
  • Sorry, of course, definitely archaic.
    – charmer
    Sep 21, 2017 at 12:01

It's been mentioned in 1006a's comment, but no-one's posted the expression I'd probably use for OP's context (if I didn't phrase things differently by saying I was laid up). Here's the usage chart...


bed rest
- Confinement of an invalid to bed as part of treatment
(Oxford Dictionaries online)

  • 4
    "Bed rest" is a prescription. The doctor advises you that you should stay in bed. If you are in bed because you are too ill to rise, you are "bedridden". Sep 18, 2017 at 20:12
  • @Malvolio: Baffling. I post an answer defining bed rest as part of treatment which gets no votes at all. Yet your comment saying exactly the same thing in different words (it's a prescription) gets 4 upvotes. Sep 19, 2017 at 14:20

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