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

  1. of unsound physical or mental health; unwell; sick: She felt ill, so her teacher sent her to the nurse.
  2. objectionable; unsatisfactory; poor; faulty: ill manners.
  3. hostile; unkindly: ill feeling.
  4. evil; wicked; bad: of ill repute.
  5. unfavorable; adverse: ill fortune.
  6. of inferior worth or ability; unskillful; inexpert: an ill example of scholarship.
  7. Slang. great; amazing: His mom is the illest cook.


  1. an unfavorable opinion or statement: I can speak no ill of her.
  2. harm or injury: His remarks did much ill.
  3. trouble, distress, or misfortune: Many ills befell him.
  4. evil: to know the difference between good and ill.
  5. sickness or disease.


  1. in an ill manner.
  2. unsatisfactorily; poorly: It ill befits a man to betray old friends.
  3. in a hostile or unfriendly manner.
  4. unfavorably; unfortunately.
  5. with displeasure or offense.
  6. faultily; improperly.
  7. with difficulty or inconvenience; scarcely: Buying a new car is an expense we can ill afford.

  1. ill at ease, socially uncomfortable; nervous: They were ill at ease because they didn’t speak the language.

  1. illustrated.
  2. illustration.
  3. illustrator.
  4. most illustrious.

  1. Illinois.

  1. contraction of I will.

adjective worse or worst

  1. (usually postpositive) not in good health; sick
  2. characterized by or intending evil, harm, etc; hostileill deeds
  3. causing or resulting in pain, harm, adversity, etcill effects
  4. ascribing or imputing evil to something referred toill repute
  5. promising an unfavourable outcome; unpropitiousan ill omen
  6. harsh; lacking kindnessill will
  7. not up to an acceptable standard; faultyill manners
  8. ill at ease unable to relax; uncomfortable


  1. evil or harmto wish a person ill
  2. a mild disease
  3. misfortune; trouble


  1. badlythe title ill befits him
  2. with difficulty; hardlyhe can ill afford the money
  3. not rightlyshe ill deserves such good fortune

abbreviation for

  1. Illinois

contraction of

  1. I will or I shall

c.1200, “morally evil” (other 13c. senses were “malevolent, hurtful, unfortunate, difficult”), from Old Norse illr “ill, bad,” of unknown origin. Not related to evil. Main modern sense of “sick, unhealthy, unwell” is first recorded mid-15c., probably related to Old Norse idiom “it is bad to me.” Slang inverted sense of “very good, cool” is 1980s. As a noun, “something evil,” from mid-13c.


early 13c., “to do evil to,” from ill (adj.). Meaing “to speak disparagingly” is from 1520s. Related: Illed; illing.


c.1200, “wickedly; with hostility;” see ill (adj.). Meaning “not well, poorly” is from c.1300. It generally has not shifted to the realm of physical sickess, as the adjective has done. Ill-fated recorded from 1710; ill-informed from 1824; ill-tempered from c.1600; ill-starred from c.1600. Generally contrasted with well, hence the useful, but now obsolete or obscure illcome (1570s), illfare (c.1300), and illth.


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


  1. A disease or illness, especially of animals.

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

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