\ 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

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 The head of the White House security office is gravely ill with COVID-19 and has been hospitalized since September, a White House official has confirmed. David Jackson, USA TODAY, "Top White House security official Crede Bailey hospitalized with COVID-19," 8 Oct. 2020 At least ten high level staffers including President Donald Trump are ill with the deadly virus. Nicole Goodkind, Fortune, "It’s October, COVID-19 is sweeping through Congress, and there is still no formal testing protocol in place," 5 Oct. 2020 Studies and case reports have identified scarring in the lungs of people who were never seriously ill with COVID-19. Erin Allday, SFChronicle.com, "Another scary thing about COVID: Survivors aren’t fully recovering," 28 Sep. 2020 For good or ill, America’s relationship with sports makes athletes seem more alive than ordinary mortals — and so their deaths, or severe injuries, seem even more tragic. Mary Mcnamara, chicagotribune.com, "Commentary: Gale Sayers and ‘Brian’s Song’ changed sports movies, and male friendship, forever," 25 Sep. 2020 Such decisions, for good and ill, are an inescapable part of the Court’s power under the Constitution as set out by Marshall and now accepted as a bedrock of American government. David French, WSJ, "Why We Fight So Ferociously Over the Supreme Court," 25 Sep. 2020 That decision could be a game-changer — for good or ill, depending on one’s perspective — for local governments across California. Michael Smolens Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Will court ruling revive defeated San Diego hotel tax?," 20 Sep. 2020 Meanwhile, Rocky Adkins, an advisor to Beshear, announced his father, Jess, had returned home from the hospital after being ill with the coronavirus. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Gov. Andy Beshear announces 775 new Kentucky coronavirus cases and 8 new deaths," 27 Aug. 2020 Despite the number of employees who tested positive for antibodies, Hartford HealthCare chief clinical officer Dr. Ajay Kumar said that only a small number of hospital system employees have become seriously ill with the virus. Emily Brindley, courant.com, "Hartford HealthCare employees contracted COVID-19 at the same rate as general population, study says, evidence that protective gear helps stop spread of virus," 18 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb The event kicks off what could be a full week of campaign travel for the president, starting Monday with a stop in central Florida for a rally at the Orlando Sanford International Airport to make up for one canceled when Trump fell ill. Justin Sink, chicagotribune.com, "Trump to resume public events, starting today on the White House balcony," 10 Oct. 2020 Mike Gannon fell ill in the early weeks of the pandemic, when doctors were still learning how to manage this mysterious new virus and medical professionals were dealing with a shortage of protective equipment. Daniela Altimari, courant.com, "‘Don’t be afraid of COVID,’ says President Trump. Families who lost loved ones to the virus have a more painful story to tell.," 9 Oct. 2020 Even limited crowds at games is ill-advised, Binney said. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, "College football and COVID-19: A big, disjointed experiment exposes scientific, political gaps," 8 Oct. 2020 Community leaders denounced the governor’s move as ill-advised and doomed to failure. Henry Goldman, Bloomberg.com, "N.Y. Recovery Stumbles as Cuomo, De Blasio Feud Over Hot Spots," 7 Oct. 2020 His interception was ill-advised and there was a miscommunication on a run play inside the 10-yard line, but otherwise his strong arm and several impressive throws was what stood out far more. oregonlive, "Mario Cristobal ‘impressed, but not surprised’ by NFL debut of Justin Herbert, who thinks Oregon Ducks can have ‘great season’," 26 Sep. 2020 Attempts toward excluding Turkey, which has the longest coastline in the region, are ill-advised and unacceptable. WSJ, "Turkey Is Not the Aggressor in Dispute With Greece," 25 Sep. 2020 When two brothers fell critically ill with Covid-19 around the same time in March, their doctors were baffled. Jason Gale, Fortune, "Covid-19 scientists flag key immune function as a turning point in life threatening cases," 25 Sep. 2020 Then a man who worked in the poultry department fell ill. Anchorage Daily News, "The code: How genetic science helped expose a secret coronavirus outbreak," 24 Sep. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about ill

Time Traveler for ill

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for ill

Last Updated

15 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Ill.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ill. Accessed 20 Oct. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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