adjective, worse, worst; (Slang) bad·der, bad·dest for 36.
- vulgar, obscene, or blasphemous: bad language.
- not properly observing rules or customs of grammar, usage, spelling, etc.; incorrect: He speaks bad English.
- in trouble or distress.
- in disfavor: He's in bad with his father-in-law.
- tolerably good; not without merit: The dinner wasn't bad, but I've had better.
- not difficult: Once you know geometry, trigonometry isn't bad.
Origin of bad1
Synonyms for bad
When the adverbial use is required, badly is standard with all verbs: She reacted badly to the criticism. Bad as an adverb appears mainly in informal contexts: I didn't do too bad on the tests. He wants money so bad it hurts. See also badly, good.
adjective worse or worst
- seriously ill, through sickness or injury
- in trouble of any kind
Word Origin for bad
c.1200, "inferior in quality;" early 13c., "wicked, evil, vicious," a mystery word with no apparent relatives in other languages.* Possibly from Old English derogatory term bæddel and its diminutive bædling "effeminate man, hermaphrodite, pederast," probably related to bædan "to defile." A rare word before 1400, and evil was more common in this sense until c.1700. Meaning "uncomfortable, sorry" is 1839, American English colloquial.
Comparable words in the other Indo-European languages tend to have grown from descriptions of specific qualities, such as "ugly," "defective," "weak," "faithless," "impudent," "crooked," "filthy" (e.g. Greek kakos, probably from the word for "excrement;" Russian plochoj, related to Old Church Slavonic plachu "wavering, timid;" Persian gast, Old Persian gasta-, related to gand "stench;" German schlecht, originally "level, straight, smooth," whence "simple, ordinary," then "bad").
Comparative and superlative forms badder, baddest were common 14c.-18c. and used as recently as Defoe (but not by Shakespeare), but yielded to comparative worse and superlative worst (which had belonged to evil and ill).
As a noun, late 14c., "evil, wickedness." In U.S. place names, sometimes translating native terms meaning "supernaturally dangerous." Ironic use as a word of approval is said to be at least since 1890s orally, originally in Black English, emerging in print 1928 in a jazz context. It might have emerged from the ambivalence of expressions like bad nigger, used as a term of reproach by whites, but among blacks sometimes representing one who stood up to injustice, but in the U.S. West bad man also had a certain ambivalence:
These are the men who do most of the killing in frontier communities, yet it is a noteworthy fact that the men who are killed generally deserve their fate. [Farmer & Henley]
*Farsi has bad in more or less the same sense as the English word, but this is regarded by linguists as a coincidence. The forms of the words diverge as they are traced back in time (Farsi bad comes from Middle Persian vat), and such accidental convergences exist across many languages, given the vast number of words in each and the limited range of sounds humans can make to signify them. Among other coincidental matches with English are Korean mani "many," Chinese pei "pay," Nahuatl (Aztecan) huel "well," Maya hol "hole."
Unfortunate, as in Too bad the shoes don't fit you. [Late 1500s]
In addition to the idioms beginning with bad
- bad blood
- bad egg
- bad hair day
- bad luck
- badly off
- bad mouth
- bad name
- bad news
- bad off
- bad sort, a
- bad taste
- bad time
- bad trip
- come to an end (bad end)
- feel bad
- from bad to worse
- get off on the wrong foot (to a bad start)
- give a bad name
- give bad marks to
- go bad
- in a bad mood
- in a bad way
- in bad faith
- in bad with someone
- in someone's bad graces
- leave a bad taste in one's mouth
- make the best of (a bad bargain)
- not a bad sort
- not bad
- poor (bad) taste
- run of (bad) luck
- too bad
- turn up (like a bad penny)
- with bad grace