See more synonyms for badly on
adverb, worse, worst.
  1. in a defective, incorrect, or undesirable way: The car runs badly.
  2. in an unsatisfactory, inadequate, or unskilled manner: a vague, badly written letter; He paints badly.
  3. unfavorably: His neighbors spoke badly of him. The weather turned out badly for the cruise.
  4. in a wicked, evil, or morally or legally wrong way.
  5. in a disobedient, naughty, or ethically or socially wrong way: He treats his parents badly.
  6. very much; to a great extent or degree: a house badly in need of repair; to want something badly.
  7. severely; direly: to be injured badly.
  8. with great distress, resentment, regret, or emotional display: She took the news of her mother's death badly.
  1. in ill health; sick: He felt badly.
  2. sorry; regretful: I feel badly about your reaction to my remark.
  3. dejected; downcast.
  1. badly off. bad1(def 41).

Origin of badly

First recorded in 1350–1400, badly is from the Middle English word baddeli. See bad1, -ly
Can be confusedbad badly (see usage note at bad1) (see usage note at the current entry)

Usage note

In the sense “very much,” badly is fully standard: He needs help badly. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for badly

Contemporary Examples of badly

Historical Examples of badly

  • "Seems to take it badly," remarked Banstead, looking at his disappearing figure.


    William J. Locke

  • The scene, in so far as the Prince is concerned, is badly conducted.

  • We hear them read far too often and far too badly, and all repetition is anti-spiritual.

    De Profundis

    Oscar Wilde

  • He rather pitied the vine—it seemed to have been badly used by fate, just as he had been.

  • If he was badly off, so, too, were many other boys and girls in that Mediterranean island.

British Dictionary definitions for badly


adverb worse or worst
  1. poorly; defectively; inadequatelythe chair is badly made
  2. unfavourably; unsuccessfully; unfortunatelyour scheme worked out badly
  3. severely; gravelyhe was badly hurt
  4. incorrectly or inaccuratelyto speak German badly
  5. improperly; naughtily; wickedlyto behave badly
  6. without humanity; cruellyto treat someone badly
  7. very much (esp in the phrases need badly, badly in need of, want badly)
  8. regretfullyhe felt badly about it
  9. badly off poor; impoverished
  1. (postpositive) Northern English dialect ill; poorly
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for badly

c.1300, "unluckily;" late 14c., "wickedly, evilly; poorly, inadequately," from bad + -ly (2).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper