Definition of bad in English:

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Pronunciation: /bad/

adjective (worse /wərs/; worst /wərst/)

1Of poor quality; inferior or defective: a bad diet bad eyesight
More example sentences
  • More big fish are lost through bad knots or poor quality crimping than for any other reason.
  • There were a lot of bad websites at one point where the loading was bad, quality of images were poor and the interface was clumsy.
  • The poor living conditions, bad diet, lack of exercise and now being alone have all taken their toll.
substandard, poor, inferior, second-rate, second-class, unsatisfactory, inadequate, unacceptable, not up to scratch, not up to par, deficient, imperfect, defective, faulty, shoddy, amateurish, careless, negligent, miserable, sorry;
incompetent, inept, inexpert, ineffectual;
awful, atrocious, appalling, execrable, deplorable, terrible, abysmal
informal crummy, rotten, godawful, pathetic, useless, woeful, bum, lousy, not up to snuff
1.1(Of a person) not able to do something well; incompetent: I’m so bad at names a bad listener
More example sentences
  • Yes, I do think that sometimes philosophers are very bad at it, because they don't think about it.
  • Now, having said all that, it still has to be said that Dawn is pretty bad at fantasy football.
  • I'm not sure why humans are so bad at planning for the future, especially for those things we can predict.
2Not such as to be hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome: bad weather we had the worst luck (as noun the bad) taking the good with the bad
More example sentences
  • I went out to the deck, hoping even with the bad weather that I could train a bit.
  • Even the TV had the grace to allow a bad weather news day to take precedence.
  • In the days before the wireless, he was trained to bear news of imminent bad weather from island to island.
unpleasant, disagreeable, unwelcome;
unfortunate, unlucky, unfavorable;
terrible, dreadful, awful, grim, distressing
2.1(Of an unwelcome thing) serious; severe: bad headaches a bad crash a bad mistake
More example sentences
  • The water was a bit soapy and although she never got pregnant, she had some really bad aches and pains for weeks after that.
  • At 12.47 a call is received from a patient recently discharged from hospital after a hip operation and now in very bad pain.
  • He visited his doctor who sent him home and when he phoned later that afternoon his chest pains were still bad so an ambulance was called.
severe, serious, grave, critical, acute
formal grievous
2.2Unfavorable; adverse: bad reviews
More example sentences
  • A musician once said to me if you don't get any bad reviews you're not doing your job.
  • The worst thing is when your mother calls you on the phone to read you your bad reviews out loud.
  • There are some really bad reviews of it, but I would kind of like to take a look at it nonetheless.
2.3Harmful: soap was bad for his face
More example sentences
  • Whether it is good for you or not, I would contend that all food can be good for you or it can be bad for you.
  • Some flower beds and tubs have been planted up but the weather has been to bad for painting.
  • If I did not know better, I would have to say that running is bad for you, with both of us seriously ill.
harmful, damaging, detrimental, injurious, hurtful, inimical, destructive, ruinous, deleterious;
unhealthy, unwholesome
2.4Not suitable: morning was a bad time to ask Andy about anything
More example sentences
  • Consumers mistakenly believe it's a bad time to get good mortgage.
  • Is now a bad time to ask how much you are spending on prenatal and pregnancy-related health care?
  • There's a good time and a bad time to ask your boss for more money.
inauspicious, unfavorable, inopportune, unpropitious, unfortunate, disadvantageous, adverse, inappropriate, unsuitable, untoward
3(Of food) decayed; putrid: everything in the fridge would go bad
More example sentences
  • You can't get much sleep; and the kids are throwing up because the food is bad.
  • The stray dogs may be hungrier, but I don't think they ever ate that bad rice.
  • Many feared that if the food went bad and somebody became ill that they would be liable and could be sued.
rotten, decayed, decomposed, decomposing, putrid, putrefied, off, moldy;
sour, spoiled, rancid, rank, unfit for human consumption;
(of an egg) addled;
(of beer) skunky
3.1(Of the atmosphere) polluted; unhealthy: bad air
More example sentences
  • If economic growth continues, there are bound to be more cars spewing bad air.
  • Does the arachnid feel a difference in the air between a bad ozone day and a good one?
  • There must be a magic line down the middle of the street that divides the good air from the bad air.
4(Of parts of the body) injured, diseased, or causing pain: a bad back
More example sentences
  • After all, our national inheritance also includes heart disease, damp and bad teeth.
  • Her son joined another queue to have his bad back checked and would be there for hours, so we took her to our hotel to rest.
  • I was taking Baja out for a bathroom run when he yanked me and I slipped on an ice patch, twisting my bad knee.
injured, wounded, diseased
dated game
4.1 [as complement] (Of a person) unwell: I feel bad
More example sentences
  • Pain is your body's way of telling you to stop, and ignoring it will not only make you feel bad but probably injure you into the bargain.
  • Even if you don't feel that bad, meningitis is a quick moving disease so it's better to be safe than sorry.
  • Would allergic kids let us know if they felt bad or accidentally contacted something?
5 [as complement] Regretful, guilty, or ashamed about something: working mothers who feel bad about leaving their children
More example sentences
  • I felt so bad, so ashamed of the person I am today, so worthless, so empty, so useless.
  • I feel slightly bad, but hope you guessed correctly which option I would go for.
  • She had been a bitch to Michelle and she felt bad about it after Hope had put it in the light.
guilty, conscience-stricken, remorseful, guilt-ridden, ashamed, contrite, sorry, full of regret, regretful, shamefaced
6Morally depraved; wicked: the bad guys bad language a bad reputation
More example sentences
  • It may also be true that some managers and record companies exploit their artists' bad reputations for commercial gain.
  • A bad reputation can only help demoralise employees and no greater flexibility of hours worked will overcome this.
  • He said he had to chastise his young members because they were creating a bad reputation for the organisation.
6.1Naughty; badly behaved: what a bad girl bad behavior
More example sentences
  • Teachers also noticed a reduction in criminal and bad behaviour.
  • What happens when one's bad behaviour is considered as usual and is no longer condemned or even commented on?
  • The general level of ignorance on what is good or bad behaviour is compounded by the idealisation of childhood.
wicked, evil, sinful, immoral, morally wrong, corrupt, base, black-hearted, reprobate, amoral;
criminal, villainous, nefarious, iniquitous, dishonest, dishonorable, unscrupulous, unprincipled
informal crooked, dirty
dated dastardly
7Worthless; not valid: he ran up 87 bad checks
More example sentences
  • He relies on the telephone and on an eye trained by expensive experience to ferret out bad checks.
  • The geeks will not inherit the earth: They spend too much time watching movies and checking for bad physics.
  • One of my earlier cases was investigating a bad cheque that had been passed at a local merchant.
invalid, worthless;
counterfeit, fake, false, bogus, fraudulent
informal phony, dud
8 (badder, baddest) informal, chiefly North American Good; excellent: they want the baddest, best-looking Corvette there is
More example sentences
  • He was amusing, and he made me feel as if I was the baddest one in the place.
  • ‘It was the baddest car I'd ever seen and I promised myself right then that one day I'd have one just like it.’
  • She knew she was badder than these wannabe hoodlums.


North American informal
Badly: he beat her up real bad
More example sentences
  • I tell you, if we start to win again, I want to beat them real bad this time.
  • No matter how bad I threw the ball, it was still going to knock down at least one pin.
  • It would be disrespectful of me to talk bad of her on a forum that everybody can read.


Confusion in the use of bad versus badly usually has to do with verbs called copulas, such as feel or seem. Thus, standard usage calls for I feel bad, not I feel badly. As a precise speaker or writer would explain, I feel badly means ‘I do not have a good sense of touch.’ See also good (usage).



come to a bad end

see end.

from bad to worse

Into an even worse state: the country’s going from bad to worse
More example sentences
  • This has only turned things from bad to worse because the buses have to now ply on a narrow road before reaching the road connecting Town Hall.
  • This is one of those days, however, that just keeps going from bad to worse, as Brandon and his passengers are soon to discover.
  • The week has gone from bad to worse for the Wexford County Board.

in a bad way

Ill: Sammy shivered. He was in a bad way
More example sentences
  • He was in a bad way, so very weak, only the occasional half-hearted flap of his wings.
  • His teeth were too long, his hooves in a bad way and he had septicaemia, a disease caused by toxic micro-organisms in the blood.
  • He looked in a bad way and I think they took him off at Singapore.
3.1In trouble: the fleet was in a bad way, mainly due to a shortage of spares
More example sentences
  • The grade two listed building, owned by North Lincolnshire Council, has been empty for the last 21 years, and is in a bad way, with extensive wet and dry rot, rotten internal floors and the fireplaces ripped out.
  • He said: ‘It looks in a bad way but just needs tidying up really.’
  • ‘Schools are in a bad way,’ he continues, shaking his head.

my bad

North American informal Used to acknowledge responsibility for a mistake: Sorry about the confusion. It’s my bad
More example sentences
  • I didn't flip the shirt over to see that there is in fact an Ivory-billed Woodpecker on the back, my bad.
  • I hate when people say ‘my bad’ it's so annoying, just say ‘sorry’ for god's sake.
  • Just kidding; it didn't take long at all - sorry for the linguistic impasse, my bad.

not (or not so) bad

informal Fairly good: she discovered he wasn’t so bad after all
More example sentences
  • There's still a mad scramble the night before, but it's not so bad.
  • But after a few trips to the toilet and some painkillers it's not so bad.
  • This was not so bad as the grill was on on quite low.
all right, adequate, good enough, pretty good, reasonable, fair, decent, average, tolerable, acceptable, passable, middling, moderate, fine
informal OK, so-so, 'comme ci, comme ça', fair-to-middling, satisfactory

to the bad

To ruin: I hate to see you going to the bad
More example sentences
  • The third key process I wish to identify is chiefly to the bad.
  • The Britain of this film is a vision of modernity gone to the bad.
  • In many ways, Peter's is the classic story of a youngster who turned to the bad because he could not see any way forward.
6.1In deficit: he was $80 to the bad
More example sentences
  • But when they finished the first half two points to the bad, after playing with the aid of a significant breeze, they were always unlikely to prevail.
  • Defending their European Cup Winners' Cup, Ferguson's side emerged at Pittodrie two goals to the bad against Dosza of Hungary.
  • Now he shows up unannounced with his passive-aggressive Chinese flute at The Bride's wedding rehearsal, like Caine gone to the bad.

too bad

informal Used to indicate that something is regrettable but now beyond retrieval: too bad, but that’s the way it is
More example sentences
  • Now when that means you lose a little money on the stock market or whatever, that's too bad.
  • In a way it's too bad, but if he becomes a casualty, it will be his own fault.
  • It would be too bad if professional boxing had to be stopped because there is a lot of good talent here.



Pronunciation: /ˈbadiSH/
Example sentences
  • But I think you should tell her before something baddish happens.
  • Then, when I'm having a baddish moment they come up and be nice to me, then I spit something back in their face that I'd rather not and the cycle of being ignored begins again.
  • The woman, with the baddish cat following closely at her heels, entered the Bilkins mansion, reached her chamber in the attic without being intercepted, and there laid aside her finery.


Middle English: perhaps representing Old English bǣddel 'hermaphrodite, womanish man'.

  • Homophobia may lie at the root of the meaning of bad. The word appeared in the 13th century, and at that time had two syllables, like baddy. This suggests that it may be a shortening of Old English bæddel ‘effeminate man, hermaphrodite’. Bad was specifically applied to coins with a reduced content of precious metal. This gives us the bad penny, which ‘always turns up’. Debased coinage also features in the proverb bad money drives out good, also known as Gresham's law, after Queen Elizabeth I's chief financial adviser Sir Thomas Gresham (1519–79). He observed that people tended to hang on to coins of a high intrinsic value, like gold sovereigns, while being happier to spend those of a lower intrinsic worth but equal face value. At the end of the 19th century bad underwent a complete reversal of meaning in US black slang, and in the 1920s jazz enthusiasts began to use it as a term of approval—something ‘bad’ was now ‘good’. Compare with the development of funk, wicked

Words that rhyme with bad

ad, add, Allahabad, Baghdad, bedad, begad, cad, Chad, clad, dad, egad, fad, forbade, gad, glad, grad, had, lad, mad, pad, plaid, rad, Riyadh, sad, scad, shad, Strad, tad, trad

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: bad

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