In trouble; also, deteriorating. For example, If he can't get that bank loan he'll be in a bad way, or The business is in a bad way, with profits declining every month. [Early 1800s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.