[poo r-lee]


in a poor manner or way: The team played poorly.


in poor health; somewhat ill: I hear she's been poorly.

Origin of poorly

First recorded in 1250–1300, poorly is from the Middle English word pourely. See poor, -ly
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for poorly

Contemporary Examples of poorly

Historical Examples of poorly

  • For I have seen a letter of his, and indifferently worded, as poorly spelt.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9)

    Samuel Richardson

  • The demand was so sudden and unexpected that it found them poorly prepared to meet it.

    Flying Machines

    W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

  • But the child who had done so much for him and had been so poorly repaid, was never out of his mind.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • Her ladyship had been but poorly, but was better within the last two days.

  • It might be a year old, but was so small and poorly nourished that its age was hard to guess.

    Salted With Fire

    George MacDonald

British Dictionary definitions for poorly



in a poor way or manner; badly


(usually postpositive) informal in poor health; rather illshe's poorly today
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 poorly

early 13c., "inadequately, badly, insufficiently," from poor (adj.) + -ly (2). Meaning "in ill health" is from 1750.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper