ill

adjective
\ ˈil How to pronounce ill (audio) \
worse\ ˈwərs How to pronounce worse (audio) \; worst\ ˈwərst How to pronounce worst (audio) \

Definition of ill

 (Entry 1 of 6)

1a comparative also iller; superlative also illest

(1) : not in good health also : nauseated
(2) : not normal or sound ill health
b : causing suffering or distress ill weather
2 : unfriendly, hostile ill feeling
3a : not suited to circumstances or not to one's advantage : unlucky an ill omen
b : involving difficulty : hard
4a : attributing evil or an objectionable quality held an ill opinion of his neighbors
b : resulting from, accompanied by, or indicative of an evil or malevolent intention ill deeds
c chiefly Scotland : immoral, vicious
5a : not meeting an accepted standard ill manners
b archaic : notably unskillful or inefficient

ill

adverb
worse; worst

Definition of ill (Entry 2 of 6)

1a : in a faulty, inefficient, insufficient, or unpleasant manner often used in combination the methods used may be ill-adapted to the aims in view— R. M. Hutchins
b : in an unfortunate manner : badly, unluckily ill fares the land … where wealth accumulates, and men decay— Oliver Goldsmith
2 : hardly, scarcely can ill afford such extravagances
3a : so as to reflect unfavorably spoke ill of the neighbors
b : with displeasure or hostility
c : in a harsh manner
4 : in a reprehensible manner

ill

noun

Definition of ill (Entry 3 of 6)

b(1) : ailment, sickness
(2) : something that disturbs or afflicts : trouble economic and social ills
2 : something that reflects unfavorably spoke no ill of him
3 : the reverse of good : evil

ill

abbreviation (1)

Definition of ill (Entry 4 of 6)

illustrated; illustration; illustrator

Ill

abbreviation (2)

Definition of Ill (Entry 5 of 6)

Illinois

Ill

geographical name
\ ˈēl How to pronounce Ill (audio) \

Definition of Ill (Entry 6 of 6)

river 129 miles (208 kilometers) long in northeastern France flowing into the Rhine River

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of ill in a Sentence

Adjective

That dog can eat almost anything with no ill effects. They had been subjected to months of ill treatment.

Adverb

He is being ill served by his advisers. Please don't think ill of me. He was a good man who never spoke ill of anyone.

Noun

chicken pox and the other ills that were once a fixture of childhood idealistic people who try to cure all of our society's ills
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Sophia Zahra, 21, from Wales was helped by the YMCA as a 17-year-old carer [someone under 18 who helps look after someone in their family who is ill, disabled or misuses drugs or alcohol] and now works for YMCA Swansea’s Young Carer project. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince Harry Talks Babies, Fortnite, and the Dark Side of Social Media," 3 Apr. 2019 Since Camila Cabello left Fifth Harmony in late 2016, we’ve been immersed in a wave of drama surrounding the singer and the former quartet’s relationship — complete with a handful of ill-fated jokes, awkward questions and mannequin controversies. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Camila Cabello Reconciled With Fellow Fifth Harmony Member Normani at the 2018 BBMAs," 15 Nov. 2018 Another persistent theory: that one of the Hart moms was terminally ill. Glamour, "Broken Harts, Episode 7: 'Stone-Cold Narcissist'," 22 Jan. 2019 And while my kids have never been gravely ill (knock on wood), superstitions have helped other parents in that terrifying situation. Galadriel Watson, Discover Magazine, "Why We Feel the Need to Knock On Wood," 17 Oct. 2018 Trump will nominate a justice who could set the course of the country for years and decades to come — for good or ill, depending upon your viewpoint — but a late development this weekend reinforces that the decision isn't destined to be a home run. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "The most interesting late development in Trump’s Supreme Court derby," 9 July 2018 Whoever writes the book, that’s just one person’s view, for good or ill. George Varga, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Mickey Hart talks music, Grateful Dead, rhythm 'trancing' and giving Tipper Gore drum lessons," 5 July 2018 Under an insanity defense, trial procedures are the same, but a judge or jury must decide between verdicts of guilty, not guilty, guilty but mentally ill or not guilty by reason of insanity. Jim Newton, Lake County News-Sun, "Insanity defense expected in upcoming Waukegan McDonald's stabbing trial," 27 June 2018 Your country’s fate, for good or ill, can change in an instant. Sean Gregory, Time, "Iceland's Big Loss to Nigeria Just Pushed the World Cup Drama to 11," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Reports have emerged that the group’s leader was ill, creating rivalry among possible successors. Abdi Guled, The Seattle Times, "Deputy chief of IS-linked group in Somalia killed: Officials," 23 Oct. 2018 Attempting to save his home and protect his wife, who is ill, Taylor tackled the fire from inside the home. Astrid Rodrigues, Philly.com, "Fireworks ignite Pennsylvania neighbor's front door," 5 July 2018 Fifteen people aboard the Aquarius are injured with serious chemical burns, some are critically ill from water in their lungs after nearly drowning and others have hypothermia, according to aid groups and doctors aboard the ship. Kim Hjelmgaard, USA TODAY, "Italy's new government shuts ports to migrants stranded at sea," 11 June 2018 Patients who are on the mend sometimes sell unused blood entitlements to those who are still ill. The Economist, "Clot-hoppersChina bungles changes to its blood-donation system," 22 Mar. 2018 Some of his more vocal supporters stirred his anger, including Fox News commentator Jeanine Pirro, who has railed repeatedly on her weekly show that the president is being ill-served by the Justice Department. Maggie Haberman, The Seattle Times, "Trump pushed for Justice Dept. prosecution of Clinton, Comey," 20 Nov. 2018 Cash, played with laconic charm by Stanfield, is a relatable hero, but Detroit is ill-served by Riley’s script, existing primarily to explain the film’s heavier themes and scold her boyfriend for his ethical lapses. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Sorry to Bother You Is Fizzy, Flawed, and Fascinating," 6 July 2018 Service is quick and casual — and, at times, ill-timed. Michael Bauer, San Francisco Chronicle, "Wursthall in San Mateo at its best with beer & brat," 18 May 2018 Yet the ad was ill-timed, launching just 16 days before the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. Emily L. Mahoney And Mary Ellen Klas, miamiherald, "He's Florida's second most powerful Republican, but he won't run for governor | Miami Herald," 9 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Thought experiment: what if Definers had mounted a campaign blaming the world’s ills on Fox News instead of George Soros? Casey Newton, The Verge, "Dueling employee petitions have revealed a deep divide within Google over China," 29 Nov. 2018 Pregnant, breastfeeding and menstruating women are exempt from the fast — children, the elderly and the ill also are not required to participate. Editors, USA TODAY, "Gaza violence, Pennsylvania primary, NBA draft lottery: 5 things to know Tuesday," 15 May 2018 Rose scored 22 points and Teague added 19 points and 10 assists for the Timberwolves, who played without the ill Andrew Wiggins but beat the Los Angeles Clippers 130-120 on Monday night. Joe Ziemer, The Seattle Times, "Healthy Rose, Teague lead Timberwolves past Clippers 130-120," 11 Feb. 2019 While these character-building scenes and increased lightheartedness are a step in the right direction, that doesn't mean Discovery has been cured of all its narrative ills. Darren Orf, Popular Mechanics, "'Star Trek: Discovery' Season Two Wants You to Forget About Season One," 18 Jan. 2019 The bottom line is that despite a legion of attempts, there is no real case against buybacks, let alone enough to blame them for all sorts of economic ills. Clifford Asness, WSJ, "Buyback Derangement Syndrome," 16 Aug. 2018 Compulsory voting is often pitched as the silver bullet to the many ills of American democracy, assuming high turnout is always good. Chayenne Polimedio, Vox, "Is voting a civic right or a civic duty?," 6 Nov. 2018 For all its potential ills, technology can be a beautiful thing. Sophie Saint Thomas, SELF, "8 Signs a Sex Therapist Might Improve Your Life (and How to Find One)," 26 Oct. 2018 Panel members hope to soon expand the list by adding tests for viruses like flu, antibiotic resistance in bacteria, cancer, heart disease and other ills. New York Times, "For First Time, W.H.O. Names Some Lab Tests ‘Essential’," 21 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ill.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ill

Adjective

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4c

Adverb

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3b

Noun

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for ill

Adjective

Middle English, from Old Norse illr

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ill

Dictionary Entries near ill

ilk

ilka

ilka day

ill

Ill

-illa

illaborate

Statistics for ill

Last Updated

25 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ill

The first known use of ill was in the 12th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ill

ill

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of ill

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: not well or healthy : sick or unhealthy
of health : not normal or good
: harmful or damaging

ill

adverb

English Language Learners Definition of ill (Entry 2 of 3)

: in a bad or imperfect way
: in an unfavorable or unkind way

ill

noun

English Language Learners Definition of ill (Entry 3 of 3)

: bad or unlucky things
: a sickness or disease
: troubles or problems

ill

adjective
\ ˈil How to pronounce ill (audio) \
worse\ ˈwərs \; worst\ ˈwərst \

Kids Definition of ill

 (Entry 1 of 4)

1 : not in good health : sick an ill person
2 : not normal or sound ill health
3 : meant to do harm : evil ill deeds
4 : causing suffering or distress ill weather
5 : not helpful He was plagued by ill luck.
6 : not kind or friendly ill intentions
7 : not right or proper ill manners

ill

adverb
worse; worst

Kids Definition of ill (Entry 2 of 4)

1 : with displeasure or anger The remark was ill received.
2 : in a harsh or unkind way The animals were ill treated.
3 : scarcely sense 1, hardly He can ill afford it.
4 : in a bad or faulty way They're ill-prepared to face the winter.

ill

noun

Kids Definition of ill (Entry 3 of 4)

1 : the opposite of good Things will change for good or ill.
2 : a sickness or disease childhood ills
3 : trouble entry 1 sense 2 society's ills

Kids Definition of Ill.

Illinois

ill

adjective
\ ˈil How to pronounce ill (audio) \
worse\ ˈwərs How to pronounce worse (audio) \ also iller\ ˈil-​ər How to pronounce iller (audio) \; worst\ ˈwərst How to pronounce worst (audio) \

Medical Definition of ill

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : affected with some ailment : not in good health incurably ill with cancerTime mentally ill
2 : affected with nausea often to the point of vomiting thought she would be ill after the ride on the roller coaster

ill

noun

Medical Definition of ill (Entry 2 of 2)

: ailment, sickness chicken pox and other ills of childhood

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on ill

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ill

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ill

Spanish Central: Translation of ill

Nglish: Translation of ill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ill for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ill

What made you want to look up ill? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!