Definition of ill in English:


Syllabification: ill



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  • 2Only with difficulty; hardly: she could ill afford the cost of new curtains
    More example sentences
    • This loss of time could be ill afforded at a time when the technical preparations for Mike were at a critical stage.
    • He stressed that some of the goods produced locally lacked quality and were produced at a comparatively higher cost making such goods ill equipped to compete on the regional market.
    • Culpeper's deepest desire was to make herbal medicine available to everyone, especially the poor who could ill afford to visit a physician.
    barely, scarcely, hardly, only just, (only) with difficulty, just possibly


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  • 1 (as plural noun the ill) People who are ill: a day center for the mentally ill
    More example sentences
    • During the bloody war in Bosnia, various drug companies donated tons of their medicines to treat the war's wounded and the ill.
    • Apparently, the system is working pretty well, as even the ill can see that they are getting a good deal.
    • Countries all over the world are grappling with how to end the lives of the ill.


ill at ease

Uncomfortable or embarrassed.
More example sentences
  • Why did he seem so ill at ease, so uncomfortable with the role he had to play?
  • She had become very uncomfortable and ill at ease when visiting her parents and suffered chronic tension.
  • It made him uncomfortable and ill at ease, and he felt she was trying to keep him there in the pilothouse.
awkward, uneasy, uncomfortable, embarrassed, self-conscious, out of place, inhibited, gauche; restless, restive, fidgety, discomfited, worried, anxious, on edge, edgy, nervous, tense, high-strung
informal twitchy, jittery, discombobulated, antsy

speak (or think) ill of

Say (or think) something critical about.
More example sentences
  • He was a handsome man, too handsome to be thought ill of by anyone, his aloof attitude did only add attractions to his charm.
  • Brown is unusual in contemporary poetry for her willingness to be thought ill of.
  • Unless one thinks ill of the woman he married, one can hardly regard this as ‘earned.’
denigrate, disparage, criticize, be critical of, speak badly of, be malicious about, blacken the name of, run down, insult, abuse, attack, revile, malign, vilify, slur
informal badmouth, dis, bitch about, talk smack, slag
formal derogate
rare asperse


Middle English (in the senses 'wicked', 'malevolent', 'harmful', and 'difficult'): from Old Norse illr 'evil, difficult', of unknown origin.


On the punctuation of ill in compound adjectives, see well1 (usage), as the same rules apply.

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Word of the day coloratura
Pronunciation: ˌkələrəˈto͝orə
elaborate ornamentation of a vocal melody