\ˈil \
worse\ˈwərs \; worst\ˈwərst \

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)

1a : misfortune, distress

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


abbreviation (1)

Definition of ill (Entry 4 of 6)

illustrated; illustration; illustrator


abbreviation (2)

Definition of Ill (Entry 5 of 6)



geographical name
\ˈēl \

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


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


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.


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

In 2007, Kavanaugh was among an 8-2 majority when the D.C. Circuit Court upheld a ruling that terminally ill patients had no constitutional right to access unapproved drugs. Lev Facher, STAT, "Brett Kavanaugh, Trump’s pick for court, has left trail of opinions on health care and pharma issues," 10 July 2018 Anecdotes like this one account for much of what’s known about the care of seriously ill patients under ObamaCare. John C. Goodman, WSJ, "ObamaCare Can Be Worse Than Medicaid," 26 June 2018 Last year, the advanced cardiac team cared for hundreds of critically ill patients, including 95 receiving a treatment that relies on a pump to circulate blood through an artificial lung back into the bloodstream. Staff Report,, "Florida Hospital has a new cardiac unit," 25 June 2018 Advocates argue that medical aid in dying allows terminally ill patients to avoid prolonged suffering by ending their lives voluntarily. Caroline Simon, USA TODAY, "With D.C. and California laws in jeopardy, a fresh debate over medical aid in dying," 25 June 2018 The new law appears to offer terminally ill patients the right to get experimental new drugs that might save their lives. The Economist, "Experimental treatments offer hope to ailing libertarians," 9 June 2018 Compassion & Choices challenged that decision May 30 on behalf of two terminally ill patients and a treating physician, but Ottolia rejected their motion. Jonel Aleccia, CNN, "With California's aid-in-dying law on hold, patients are left to wait," 7 June 2018 Manchester City star Benjamin Medny has revealed a touching story of how a terminally ill hospital patient helped give him the motivation to recover from a serious knee injury., "Man City Defender Reveals How a Terminally Ill Patient Helped Him Recover From Injury," 6 June 2018 Compassion & Choices challenged that decision May 30 on behalf of two terminally ill patients and a treating physician, but Ottolia rejected their motion. NBC News, "Terminally ill in California waiting to die, but this court won't let them," 5 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Officials say about 30 people were hospitalized after workers at a Massachusetts company began feeling ill, triggering a hazmat response to the building. Fox News, "Officials: Chlorine leak sparks hazmat response; 30 sickened," 25 June 2018 At least 20 people were hospitalized Sunday night after workers at Thermal Circuits, Inc. in Salem began feeling ill, triggering a large hazmat response to the building, according to Salem Fire Department Deputy Chief Alan Dionne. Alejandro Serrano,, "At least 20 people hospitalized after Salem hazmat situation," 25 June 2018 Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not reveal the identity of the person, who felt ill after referee Andres Cunha disallowed Saeid Ezatolahi's goal. Samuel Petrequin,, "Iran staff member hospitalized after disallowed goal against Spain," 21 June 2018 Seventeen-year-old Alana McMullen suddenly started feeling ill after the holiday season. Jason Duaine Hahn,, "19-Year-Old Brother Gets a Haircut to Match His Sister's 10-Inch Scar from Brain Tumor Surgery," 6 Apr. 2018 The student who brought the candies felt ill after eating five. Wilborn P. Nobles Iii,, "All New Orleans public schools expected to reopen Tuesday," 22 Jan. 2018 Feeling ill the last two games, Lance Stephenson had been ineffective, and that hurt the Pacers bench. Clifton Brown, Indianapolis Star, "3 takeaways from the Pacers' victory over the Spurs," 21 Jan. 2018 But patients that ill are often cared for, not in hospitals, but in nursing homes and skilled nursing facilities—and those institutions tend not to hire or empower the sharp-eyed infection-prevention practitioners that hospitals do. Maryn Mckenna, WIRED, "The Strange and Curious Case of the Deadly Superbug Yeast," 13 July 2018 Word that Secretary of State George Shultz, 97, had been taken ill reached the newsroom Tuesday night. Leah Garchik,, "George Shultz back at work after ‘little’ health scare," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Canada native takes a step back to observe the ills of society exuded throughout the clip. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Classified Hopes to Spark Change in Society With New 'Fallen' Video: Premiere," 29 June 2018 When the Eighteenth Amendment passed through the legislature in 1919, a generation of children had already been educated to thwart the ills of alcohol. Hannah C. Griggs, The Atlantic, "Teaching Sobriety With ‘The Bottle’," 27 May 2018 The aura of Mandela is that of turning the other cheek to historical injustice—the ills of colonialism, of oppression, of exploitation. Peter Godwin, WSJ, "Mandela’s Troubled Legacy," 13 July 2018 Jose Maria Sison said Duterte wants the guerrillas to surrender without addressing the social ills that have inflamed one of Asia's longest communist rebellions. Jim Gomez, Fox News, "Communist rebels tell Philippine leader: No more talks," 28 June 2018 Jose Maria Sison said Duterte wants the guerrillas to surrender without addressing the social ills that have inflamed one of Asia’s longest communist rebellions. Jim Gomez,, "Communist rebels tell Philippine leader: No more talks," 28 June 2018 Iron-fisted policing tactics have only exacerbated the carnage without addressing the underlying social ills contributing to the gangs’ expansion. Marcos Aleman And Joshua Goodman, USA TODAY, "Families fleeing violence keep coming to US illegally despite Trump zero tolerance policy," 21 June 2018 Onfroy wasn’t concerned with aspirational posturing or waxing about societal ills. Gerrick D. Kennedy Los Angeles Times, Detroit Free Press, "Slain rapper XXXTentacion’s violent life stood in stark contrast to sensitive music," 21 June 2018 This approach, says Ford, could fix the ills of modern urban places. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Why Ford Is Buying Detroit’s Derelict Train Station," 19 June 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.

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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

Dictionary Entries near ill



ilka day





Statistics for ill

Last Updated

10 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ill

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

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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

ills : troubles or problems


\ˈil \
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 \
worse\ˈwərs \ also iller\ˈil-ər \; worst\ˈwərst \

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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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