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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for worses

poor, bad, ill

Examples from the Web for worses

Historical Examples of worses

  • The young and old Worses had no common interests, and seldom saw one another.

    Skipper Worse

    Alexander Lange Kielland

  • Them as goes away to better themselves, often worses themselves, as I call it.

British Dictionary definitions for worses



the comparative of bad 1
none the worse for not harmed by (adverse events or circumstances)
the worse for wear
  1. shabby or worn
  2. a slang term for drunk
worse luck! informal unhappily; unfortunately
worse off (postpositive) in a worse, esp a worse financial, condition


something that is worse
for the worse into a less desirable or inferior state or conditiona change for the worse
go from bad to worse to deteriorate even more


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
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 worses



Old English wiersa, wyrsa, from Proto-Germanic *wers-izon- (cf. Old Saxon wirs, Old Norse verri, Swedish värre, Old Frisian wirra, Old High German wirsiro, Gothic wairsiza "worse"), comparative of PIE *wers- "to confuse, mix up" (cf. Old High German werra "strife," Old Saxon werran "to entangle, compound;" see war). Used as a comparative of bad, evil, ill or as the opposite of better. Phrase for better or for worse is attested from late 14c. (for bet, for wers); to change for the worse is recorded from c.1400.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with worses


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.

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