\ 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


worse; worst

Definition of ill (Entry 2 of 6)

1a : in a faulty, inefficient, insufficient, or unpleasant manner often used in combinationthe 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)

(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 The sixth victim was a Mesquite man in his 50s who had been ill at a hospital. Nataly Keomoungkhoun, Dallas News, "Dallas County reports 3,303 coronavirus cases, 6 deaths; Tarrant County reports 1,305 cases, 5 deaths," 29 Nov. 2020 According to state police, the ride-share driver, Jeffrey Monroe of Avon, Indiana, had pulled his car to the side of Interstate 70 because Jackson was ill. Mcclain Baxley, The Indianapolis Star, "The remarkable story of Colts LB Edwin Jackson: 'Full of life, full of fun'," 26 Nov. 2020 Since March, more than 2,750 Minnesota inmates have tested positive for the virus, including 558 who are currently ill. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, "Pastor’s plea, Miami memorial, nursing home strike: News from around our 50 states," 25 Nov. 2020 State prisons director Annette Chambers Smith was ill in July. Jackie Borchardt, The Enquirer, "LIVE: Ohio reports 8,604 new cases, 98 deaths; first batch of vaccine expected next month," 24 Nov. 2020 Merrill adopted an emergency rule to allow all voters to vote absentee without the normal requirements for reason, such as being out of town or being ill, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, "Two-thirds of Alabama voters cast straight-party votes," 24 Nov. 2020 And even if a person who is severely ill with COVID-19 does not die, the consequences can linger for months. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, "COVID-19 cases surge but deaths don’t -- the reason? Age," 24 Nov. 2020 One of them, a young lioness named Nala, was so ill during a U.S.D.A. inspection in June that investigators halted the visit and ordered her rushed to a vet. Michael Ruiz, Fox News, "DOJ files Endangered Species Act complaint against 'Tiger King' star Jeff Lowe," 19 Nov. 2020 Raiden's mother, Mariah Gonzalez, 29, broke the news of his father's passing, and though difficult, Raiden understood that Adan had been ill, Bryant said. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, "A boy lost both parents to Covid-19. His family asks Texas community for help celebrating his 5th birthday," 17 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Ahrens fell ill about two weeks earlier, overcome by paralyzing fatigue. Lenny Bernstein, Washington Post, "Inside a hospital as the coronavirus surges: Where will all the patients go?," 29 Nov. 2020 Earlier this month, her friend and fellow priest, the Rev. Dr. Marsha Bell, fell ill with COVID, Macgill said. Jean Marbella, baltimoresun.com, "Allegany County watched from afar as coronavirus hit ‘downstate’ Maryland; now, it’s running rampant through panhandle region," 20 Nov. 2020 Isidro Fernandez, who worked in the Waterloo facility, was one of the workers who fell ill in April. Washington Post, "Tyson Foods managers had a ‘winner-take-all’ bet on how many workers would get covid-19, lawsuit alleges," 19 Nov. 2020 Bennett, however, fell ill and had to leave school. John Maffei, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Prep notes: Kirk McCaskill returns to coaching, takes over at Bishop’s," 17 Nov. 2020 The company had paused a vaccine trial in October after a participant fell ill. Megan Durisin, Fortune, "J&J’s COVID-19 vaccine enters a new 6,000-person late-stage trial," 16 Nov. 2020 This summer, dozens of Secret Service agents fell ill or were sidelined and forced to quarantine in the wake of the president’s massive indoor stadium rally in Tulsa in June and the vice president’s subsequent trip to Arizona. Anchorage Daily News, "More than 130 Secret Service officers are said to be infected with coronavirus or quarantining in wake of Trump’s campaign travel," 13 Nov. 2020 On the way home the following week, Mr. Howard fell ill with what appeared to be a cold but was actually the coronavirus. Michael Wilson, New York Times, "Before ‘I Have a Dream,’ Martin Luther King Almost Died. This Man Saved Him.," 13 Nov. 2020 Yet Padilla Hernandez stayed away from the hospital for months when his mother and twin sisters fell ill with the virus in July. Christina Zdanowicz And Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, "Nurse sends loving message to his family hours before losing his life to Covid-19," 12 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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, Bloomberg.com, "Your Evening Briefing," 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, "Journalism That Holds Power to Account," 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, "Amazon’s Bezos needs to tackle poverty as boldly as he talks about space," 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, "Elected Officials Must Keep Us Better Informed about the Coronavirus," 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, "Portland Commissioner Position 2 candidates explain if they feel the city is doing enough to address housing, homelessness," 25 Apr. 2020 Since then efforts to tackle various environmental ills have waxed and waned: while enormous strides have been made in curbing air pollution, the threat of climate change has emerged and mushroomed. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, "How the Environment Has Changed since the First Earth Day 50 Years Ago," 22 Apr. 2020 Thirteen coronavirus patients died Wednesday in one hospital alone in the borough of Queens and other hospitals were swamped with the ill. Kevin Mccoy And Katie Wedell, USA TODAY, "'On-the-job emergency training': Hospitals may run low on staff to run ventilators for coronavirus patients," 27 Mar. 2020 In addition to the medical implications, the companies are concerned that the b ills being discussed in several states would make members of the LGBTQ community feel unsafe. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Coronavirus forces Apple’s hand on WWDC," 14 Mar. 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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Learn More about ill

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

2 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ill.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ill. Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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More Definitions for ill

How to pronounce Ill (audio)

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 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



Medical Definition of ill (Entry 2 of 2)

: ailment, sickness chicken pox and other ills of childhood

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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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