[ wurs ]
/ wɜrs /

adjective, compar. of bad and ill.

bad or ill in a greater or higher degree; inferior in excellence, quality, or character.
more unfavorable or injurious.
in less good condition; in poorer health.


that which is worse.


in a more evil, wicked, severe, or disadvantageous manner.
with more severity, intensity, etc.; in a greater degree.

Origin of worse

before 900; Middle English (adj., adv., and noun); Old English wiersa (comparative adj.), wiers (adv.); cognate with Old Norse verri, Gothic wairsiza; see war2

Definition for worse (2 of 4)

[ il ]
/ ɪl /

adjective, worse, worst; ill·er, ill·est for 7.



Origin of ill

1150–1200; Middle English ill(e) (noun and adj.) < Old Norse illr (adj.) ill, bad


ill sick1 (see synonym study at the current entry)

synonym study for ill

1. Ill, sick mean being in bad health, not being well. Ill is the more formal word. In the U.S. the two words are used practically interchangeably except that sick is always used when the word modifies the following noun: He looks sick ( ill ); a sick person. In England, sick is not interchangeable with ill, but usually has the connotation of nauseous: She got sick and threw up. sick, however, is used before nouns just as in the U.S.: a sick man. 4. See bad1.

grammar notes for ill

See well1.

Definition for worse (3 of 4)

[ bad ]
/ bæd /

adjective, worse, worst; (Slang) bad·der, bad·dest for 36.


adverb Informal.

badly: He wanted it bad enough to steal it.

Origin of bad

1250–1300; Middle English badde, perhaps akin to Old English bæddel hermaphrodite, bædling womanish man


bad·ness, noun

synonym study for bad

2. Bad, evil, ill, wicked are closest in meaning in reference to that which is lacking in moral qualities or is actually vicious and reprehensible. Bad is the broadest and simplest term: a bad man; bad habits. Evil applies to that which violates or leads to the violation of moral law: evil practices. Ill now appears mainly in certain fixed expressions, with a milder implication than that in evil: ill will; ill-natured. Wicked implies willful and determined doing of what is very wrong: a wicked plan.

usage note for bad

The adjective bad meaning “unpleasant, unattractive, unfavorable, spoiled, etc.,” is the usual form to follow such copulative verbs as sound, smell, look, and taste: After the rainstorm the water tasted bad. The coach says the locker room smells bad. After the copulative verb feel, the adjective badly in reference to physical or emotional states is also used and is standard, although bad is more common in formal writing: I feel bad from overeating. She felt badly about her friend's misfortune.
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.

Definition for worse (4 of 4)

[ bad-lee ]
/ ˈbæd li /

adverb, worse, worst.


Origin of badly

First recorded in 1350–1400, badly is from the Middle English word baddeli. See bad1, -ly


bad badly (see usage note at bad1) (see usage note at the current entry)

usage note for badly

In the sense “very much,” badly is fully standard: He needs help badly.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for worse

British Dictionary definitions for worse (1 of 5)

/ (wɜːs) /




in a more severe or unpleasant manner
in a less effective or successful manner

Word Origin for worse

Old English wiersa; related to Old Frisian werra, Old High German wirsiro, Old Norse verri, Gothic wairsiza

British Dictionary definitions for worse (2 of 5)

/ (ˈbædlɪ) /

adverb worse or worst


(postpositive) Northern English dialect ill; poorly

British Dictionary definitions for worse (3 of 5)

/ (ɪl) /

adjective worse or worst



Word Origin for ill

C11 (in the sense: evil): from Old Norse illr bad

British Dictionary definitions for worse (4 of 5)

/ (bæd) /

adjective worse or worst



not standard badlyto want something bad

Derived forms of bad

baddish, adjectivebadness, noun

Word Origin for bad

C13: probably from bæd-, as the first element of Old English bǣddel hermaphrodite, bǣdling sodomite

British Dictionary definitions for worse (5 of 5)

/ (bæd) /


a variant of bade
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

Medicine definitions for worse

[ ĭl ]


Not healthy; sick.
Not normal, as a condition; unsound.


A disease or illness, especially of animals.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Idioms and Phrases with worse (1 of 3)


In addition to the idiom beginning with worse

  • worse for wear

also see:

  • all the (worse)
  • bark is worse than one's bite
  • fate worse than death
  • for better or for worse
  • from bad to worse
  • if worst comes to worst
  • none the worse
  • take a turn for the better (worse)

Also see underworst.

Idioms and Phrases with worse (2 of 3)


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

also see:

  • 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

Idioms and Phrases with worse (3 of 3)


In addition to the idioms beginning with ill

  • ill at ease
  • ill wind that blows no one any good, it's an

, also see under

  • get sick
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.