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


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



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

Definition of ill (Entry 4 of 6)

illustrated; illustration; illustrator

Definition of Ill (Entry 5 of 6)



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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And their parents or grandparents were frequently falling ill — many subsequently died or developed long-haul symptoms. Stewart Ain,, 3 June 2021 Laboratory researchers may isolate a virus or other pathogen from a natural source, such as an animal, an ill patient, or somewhere else in the environment. Mark Kortepeter, Forbes, 2 June 2021 Richard, who by then also owned Claridge’s, Simpson’s-in-the-Strand and other choice establishments, was becoming increasingly frail and ill. Moira Hodgson, WSJ, 2 June 2021 The nonprofit matches chronically ill children and their siblings with volunteer coaches to share skills like painting, guitar, dance, cooking and soccer. Helen Bond, Dallas News, 1 June 2021 February 27, 2019 - The California Supreme Court affirms the stay issued by the state’s Court of Appeals, making the option of aid in dying legal for terminally-ill adults who meet certain qualifications. Cnn Editorial Research, CNN, 1 June 2021 On Location: May 28, 202100:0000:0003:10GO LIVEFacebookTwitterEmailEmbedSpeedNormalAutoplay A Florida man has been arrested for stealing nearly 200 ventilators that were meant to help critically ill COVID-19 patients in El Salvador, officials said. Marlene Lenthang, ABC News, 29 May 2021 In November of 2019, three researchers at that laboratory got severely ill, bad enough to require going to a hospital. Adam Rogers, Wired, 28 May 2021 Ruffin, who had dealt with various ailments in recent years, began feeling ill after returning home from a recent trip to Las Vegas. Brendel Hightower, Detroit Free Press, 27 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The reactor would be capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons, was not configured to produce electricity and was ill-suited for research. CBS News, 26 May 2021 The current computational model and programming paradigm is ill-suited for the emerging set of problems in the AI sphere. Jason Mars, Forbes, 18 May 2021 Many former waiters or hotel clerks may be ill-suited to becoming construction workers or software engineers. New York Times, 29 Apr. 2021 The lack of shelter beds has created a massive bottleneck of unaccompanied children in overcrowded and ill-suited Border Patrol facilities. Camilo Montoya-galvez, CBS News, 8 Apr. 2021 The agency is ill-suited to cope with the complex emotional, physical and health needs of a youth population comprised primarily of teenagers but also some small toddlers and babies. Nick Miroff, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2021 On the other side, lawyers in favor of disrobing argue that the courtroom costume, a holdover from colonial times, is ill-suited for India’s blazing summers. Shan Li, WSJ, 17 Mar. 2021 This shtick may be uniquely ill suited to this moment. James Pogue, The New Republic, 3 Feb. 2021 Gallagher, who handily won reelection in Wisconsin's 8th Congressional District last year, says the legislative branch is ill-suited to deal with the problems of today. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, 3 Feb. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Every sophisticated initiative that aims to address a social ill requires an equally (or more) sophisticated tool to measure whether that initiative is at all effective. C. Brandon Ogbunu, Wired, 25 May 2021 As Facebook has taught us, every social and political ill can be cured with better algorithms. Washington Post, 17 May 2021 So while activists, organizers, and people living with the realities of a social ill—say police violence—are putting themselves on the line to make change, 'ally' connotes a passive bystander. Claire Gillespie,, 7 May 2021 With scarce supplies, too few ventilators and staff falling ill, American doctors will soon be forced to pick which patients receive lifesaving care and which do not. David Rovella,, 10 May 2020 Health care providers treating the terminally ill are required to inform patients and their families of the full range of options for navigating their final days. Joe Sexton, ProPublica, 3 Nov. 2019 His passion for space is geared toward saving civilization from the ills that plague planet Earth. Tyrone Beason / Columnist, The Seattle Times, 8 Oct. 2018 In an ideal world, Americans would be going out confident in the knowledge that infections had declined significantly and a fully operating test-and-trace regime was in place to warn the exposed and quarantine the ill. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, 5 May 2020 Give police access to special shelters, mobile home areas or camping to specifically serve the mentally ill who attract police involvement on streets, camping locations and shelters. oregonlive, 25 Apr. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of ill


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


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


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for ill


Middle English, from Old Norse illr

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Time Traveler for ill

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for ill

Last Updated

6 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Ill.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for ill



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



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

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



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

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


\ 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


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.



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.



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



Medical Definition of ill (Entry 2 of 2)

: ailment, sickness chicken pox and other ills of childhood

More from Merriam-Webster on ill

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ill

Nglish: Translation of ill for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ill for Arabic Speakers


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