bad·​ly ˈbad-lē How to pronounce badly (audio)
: in a bad manner
played badly
: to a great or intense degree
want something badly
badly off for
: strongly in need of (something or someone)
It may seem pie in the sky in the current financial climate, but few could argue that for a city of its size and prestige, Edinburgh is badly off for large-scale sports facilities.The Evening News (Edinburgh)
not badly
: fairly or acceptably well
The economy is doing not badly and looks even better than it really is.Tom Teepen
think badly of
: to have an unfavorable or low opinion of (someone or something)
"You shouldn't think badly of the town because of this," said Brogan. "It is a good town."Neil Gaiman

Examples of badly in a Sentence

He played badly but I played even worse. The failure reflects badly on the administration. She wanted the job badly. I'm badly in need of a vacation. His fingers were badly frozen.
Recent Examples on the Web More than 850,000 housing units were either destroyed or badly damaged. Scott McLean, CNN, 6 Feb. 2024 The Pajaro River in Watsonville, which flooded badly last winter when levees failed, has a 21% chance of reaching its flood stage of 24 feet by Monday, the National Weather Service said. Sacramento Bee, 3 Feb. 2024 His saving grace is that Larry almost never punches down, up or sideways without injuring himself twice as badly. James Poniewozik, New York Times, 2 Feb. 2024 Most of the parties concerned behave badly and even vindictively at times, but the show rarely takes a position on who’s right or wrong. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 31 Jan. 2024 Considering a student acing a class all semester and then badly failing a final exam. Clarence E. Hill Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 26 Jan. 2024 The stadium was badly damaged during the years of war. Omar Faruk, The Christian Science Monitor, 26 Jan. 2024 The authors appeared to be concerned that the possibility of a lab leak would reflect badly on Chinese scientists. Joel Zinberg, National Review, 26 Jan. 2024 After prying open the damaged door, Carroll recalls easing the body of a badly bleeding and barely conscious 25-year-old man to the pavement. John L. Smith, Rolling Stone, 25 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'badly.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of badly was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near badly

Cite this Entry

“Badly.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


bad·​ly ˈbad-lē How to pronounce badly (audio)
; worst
: in a bad manner
played badly
: very much
wanted the jeans badly

More from Merriam-Webster on badly

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