Chic vs. sheik

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The adjective chic (pronounced sheek) comes from French. It means conforming to the current fashion, stylish, or sophisticated. Sheik (which is pronounced either shake or sheek) refers to (1) an Islamic religious official, or (2) a leader of an Arab family or village. Sheikh is a less common variant.


These writers use chic in the conventional sense:

Just over a year ago, she chopped off her long dark locks for a chic short bob. [Daily Mail]

Vacancy rates are still rising and average rental rates are down, even in the chic spaces with great views. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Chic also frequently appears as a noun, usually as the second word in a two-word phrase denoting a fashion movement—for example:

But it’s not just the glitter- ati who drape themselves in radical chic. [Boston Herald]

Planet-aware designers are embracing eco chic at London Fashion Week. [Telegraph]

Sheik is often a title—for example:

One group is headed by Sheikh Ramathan Mubajje whose position as Mufti is contested by Sheik Zubair Kayongo. [Daily Monitor]

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Bahrain’s foreign minister, Sheik Khalid bin Ahmed al-Khalifa, on Thursday. [New York Times]

And sheik may also be used generically:

On Friday, the sheik called on the army to free political prisoners, dissolve the cabinet and transfer authority to a civilian government. [New York Daily News]

In Alexandria, CNN reported, a sheik who had previously been banned by the government from preaching led the address. [Time]

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