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Dictionary entry: SARS

Dictionary entry: SARS

By: Ọlá W. Halim

SARS [NigE]  /sa:s/ acronym for Sow Anarchy, Reap Sadism

  • noun, verb, adjective, adverb


  1. (of the police, ‘special’ enforcement agents, etc.) to pre-design (a) crime(s) in ambush for sb., especially when they are presumed to own a smartphone or a laptop; or wear flashy hairdo and/or dress flamboyantly: The police has just SARSed Dele for wearing Gucci | Put on your slippers instead of those Adidas, or do you want to be SARSed?
  2. to molest, harass, assault, or kill sb. in such manner: “The girl’s death wasn’t my fault,” the officer explained. “I had to SARS her because she was wearing a cellphone dress!”

IDIOM: SARS it up (informal) used to shut sb. up while they are trying to defend themselves: “Officer, those documents are encrypted because—” “SARS it up, you criminal, or I blow up your balls!”

°noun (uncountable) a collection of things and/or behaviours considered contraband/intolerable by ‘special’ enforcement agents, such as smartphones, laptops, Rolexes, Mercedes-Benzes, tattoos, dreads and perms and shaggies, coloured hair, spaghetti gowns, golden teeth, frequent credit alerts, encrypted folders, boyfriend jeans, etc: If you’re in possession of any form of SARS, please leave the exam hall now! | They caught him snuggling SARS past the checkpoint, so they shot him. (—see SARSeer, SARSee, SARSette.)

°adjective, also SARSesque. forms: SARSier, SARSiest (often disapproving)

  1. domineering: I hate my husband for being so SARS! Do you know he dictates everything I wear?
  2. lawless, savage: How can you talk about your rights when you live in a SARS country like Nigeria?
  3. (fatally) dangerous: The crocodile is one of the SARSiest of aquatic animals.
  4. invasive, intrusive (of one’s personal privacy): Could you stop being so SARS and take your eyes off my phone screen?

°adverb, also (ethnic usage) SARSic (euphemistic, humorous) to a great degree; very: He performed SARS well in the force by killing a hundred youths in two months, so he was promoted to inspector. (see—SARSically, SARSesquely.)


SARSically | SARSesquely

The adverbs SARSically and SARSesquely can both mean ‘in a SARS or SARSic way’. SARSically specifically means this, and it is more common than SARSesquely: He was SARSically happy he almost drank himself to death. SARSesquely is mostly figurative, and not appropriate for formal discourse: Oh, how SARSesquely I have fallen for my beloved nation, Nigeria!


Although SARS has in recent times gained worldwide attention, the word originated from Nigeria, a country led in turns by lawless, crippled governments. It has its etymological roots in a ‘special’ group created by one of these crippled governments. It was created to legalise ‘corporate crime’ and to further frustrate the country’s youths so as to fully execute its policy of “The Leaders of Tomorrow are the Same Leaders of Today”, but the youths have decided enough is enough and have taken the bull by its horns.

Because of its negative innuendos, successive governments have banned the use of the word SARS both in public and private places. Retired politicians, to make up for the pension they are receiving, have been stationed at strategic places to ensure users of the word are arrested and duly punished. Ghost security cameras in form of man-controlled mosquitoes have been installed in homes to monitor people too. Since the #EndSARS advocacies and protests started, at least four million people have been arrested or shot dead for using the word. If you are in Nigeria, even though you join the protests, use megaphones to say SARS. That way, only the megaphones will be arrested and destroyed and you will be safe. At home, do not mention the word at all!


Sow Anarchy, Reap Sadism (SARS) is responsible for the assaults and killings of thousands of Nigerians in the facade of fighting crime. Protests are ongoing, and everyone is mandated to lend their voice before the youths all become history. You too can join the protests, offline or online. You can help by sharing this Dictionary Entry across social media. You can help by clicking https://nigeriansenators.firebaseapp.com/. This link takes you to a list of Nigerian senators and their contact information. Clicking on a phone number generates an automatic message prompting its recepient (the senator) to act on your displeasure with the SARS. Send the message to as many as you can, and wait for the Anarchy and Sadism visited upon Nigerians to end.

Ọlá W. Halim writes fiction and reflections somewhere in Edo State, where he also teaches English Language and Literature. He was recently shortlisted for the 2020 Punocracy Prize. In 2019, he was shortlisted for both the TFCN Teacher’s Prize in Literature and the Sevhage Short Story Prize. He won the 2020 LitFest Prize in the fiction category for his short story, “Miracle”. Halim currently edits prose for ARTmosterrific. He can be found on Twitter @olaposiH. 

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Akindayo Peace Akinwale
Akindayo Peace Akinwale
3 years ago

This is terrific! There is so much creativity embedded in this piece. Brilliant invention, Ola!

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