From Middle English ille (“evil; wicked”), from Old Norse illr (adj), illa (adverb), ilt (noun) (whence Icelandic illur, Norwegian ille, Danish ilde), from Proto-Germanic *ilhilaz, from Proto-Indo-European *h₁elḱ- (whence Latin ulcus (“sore”), Ancient Greek ἕλκος (hélkos, “wound, ulcer”), Sanskrit अर्शस् (árśas, “hemorrhoids”) (whence Hindi अर्श (arś)).
- (obsolete) Evil; wicked (of people). [13th–19th c.]
- 1709 December 6, Francis Atterbury, A Sermon Preached before the Sons of the Clergy, at their Anniversary-Meeting, in the Church of St. Paul:
- St. Paul chose to magnify his office when ill men conspired to lessen it.
- (archaic) Morally reprehensible (of behaviour etc.); blameworthy. [from 13th c.]
- Indicative of unkind or malevolent intentions; harsh, cruel. [from 14th c.]
- He suffered from ill treatment.
- Unpropitious, unkind, faulty, not up to reasonable standard.
- ill manners; ill will
- 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, in The Unknown Ajax:
- […] his lordship was out of humour. That was the way Chollacombe described as knaggy an old gager as ever Charles had had the ill-fortune to serve. Stiff-rumped, that's what he was, always rubbing the rust, or riding grub, like he had been for months past.
- Unwell in terms of health or physical condition; sick. [from 15th c.]
- Mentally ill people.
- I've been ill with the flu for the past few days.
- Having an urge to vomit. [from 20th c.]
- Seeing those pictures made me ill.
- (hip-hop slang) Sublime, with the connotation of being so in a singularly creative way.
- 1994, Biggie Smalls (lyrics and music), “The What”:
- Biggie Smalls is the illest / Your style is played out, like Arnold wonderin "Whatchu talkin bout, Willis?"
- (slang) Extremely bad (bad enough to make one ill). Generally used indirectly with to be.
- That band was ill.
- (dated) Unwise; not a good idea.
- 1672, George Swinnock, The Incomparableness of God:
- Oh that when the devil and flesh entice the sinner to sport with and make a mock of sin, Prov. x. 23, he would but consider, it is ill jesting with edged tools, it is ill jesting with unquenchable burnings; […]
- 1914, Indian Ink, volume 1, page 32:
- They arrested everybody—and it is ill to resist a drunken Tommy with a loaded rifle!
Usage notes edit
- The comparative worse and superlative worst are the standard forms. The forms iller and illest are also used in American English, but are less than a quarter as frequent as "more" and "most" forms. The forms iller, illest are quite common in the slang sense "sublime".
- (suffering from a disease): diseased, poorly (UK), sick, under the weather (informal), unwell
- (having an urge to vomit): disgusted, nauseated, nauseous, sick, sickened
- (bad): bad, mal-
- (in hip-hop slang: sublime): dope
- See also Thesaurus:diseased
- (suffering from a disease): fine, hale, healthy, in good health, well
- (bad): good
- (in hip-hop slang: sublime): wack
Derived terms edit
- be taken ill
- bird of ill omen
- do ill
- fall ill
- house of ill fame
- ill effect
- ill effects
- ill fame
- ill feeling
- ill health
- ill humor
- ill humour
- ill luck
- ill name
- ill news spreads apace
- ill off
- ill turn
- ill will
- ill wind
- it's an ill bird that fouls its own nest
- it's an ill wind
- it's an ill wind that blows nobody any good
- it's an ill wind that blows no good
- it's an ill wind that blows no one any good
- lie ill in one's mouth
- mentally ill
- take ill
- terminally ill
- wish someone ill
- with ill grace
- woman of ill fame
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
- ^ Michiel de Vaan, Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, s.v. "ulcus" (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 637.
- Not well; imperfectly, badly
- 1837, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], “A Proposal of Marriage”, in Ethel Churchill: Or, The Two Brides. […], volume I, London: Henry Colburn, […], →OCLC, page 126:
- He would have conversed as usual; but his attempts were so ill seconded, that he was fain to take refuge in the letters that lay beside him.
- 1859 December 13, Charles Dickens [et al.], “(please specify the name of the story)”, in Charles Dickens, editor, The Haunted House. The Extra Christmas Number of All the Year Round […], volume II, London: […] C. Whiting, […], →OCLC:
- Within, I found it, as I had expected, transcendently dismal. The slowly changing shadows waved on it from the heavy trees, were doleful in the last degree; the house was ill-placed, ill-built, ill-planned, and ill-fitted.
- 1992, Rudolf M[athias] Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, New York, N.Y.: Columbia University Press, →ISBN, page 3:
- In both groups, however, we find copious and intricate speciation so that, often, species limits are narrow and ill defined.
- 2006, Julia Borossa (translator), Monique Canto-Sperber (quoted author), in Libération, 2002 February 2, quoted in Élisabeth Badinter (quoting author), Dead End Feminism, Polity, →ISBN, page 40:
- Is it because this supposes an undifferentiated violence towards others and oneself that I could ill imagine in a woman?
Derived terms edit
- ill at ease
- ill behaved
- ill-got gains
- ill-gotten gains
- ill-lit, illlit
- speak ill of
- (often pluralized) Trouble; distress; misfortune; adversity.
- Music won't solve all the world's ills, but it can make them easier to bear.
- c. 1599–1602 (date written), William Shakespeare, “The Tragedie of Hamlet, Prince of Denmarke”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies […] (First Folio), London: […] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, →OCLC, [Act II, scene i]:
- That makes us rather bear those ills we have / Than fly to others that we know not of.
- 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 4, in Mr. Pratt's Patients:
- Then he commenced to talk, really talk. and inside of two flaps of a herring's fin he had me mesmerized, like Eben Holt's boy at the town hall show. He talked about the ills of humanity, and the glories of health and Nature and service and land knows what all.
- Harm or injury.
- I wouldn't want you to do me ill.
- Evil; moral wrongfulness.
- A physical ailment; an illness.
- I am incapacitated by rheumatism and other ills.
- (US, slang, uncountable) PCP, phencyclidine.
Derived terms edit
- Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.
- Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.
Further reading edit
- “ill”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.
- Jonathon Green (2023), “ill v.”, in Green's Dictionary of Slang
Norwegian Nynorsk edit
Related terms edit
- “ill” in The Nynorsk Dictionary.
Old Norse edit
ill (plural ills)
Etymology 1 edit
- 1867, GLOSSARY OF THE DIALECT OF FORTH AND BARGY:
- Ill een.
- Ill end.
Etymology 2 edit
- Alternative form of
- Jacob Poole (1867), William Barnes, editor, A Glossary, With some Pieces of Verse, of the old Dialect of the English Colony in the Baronies of Forth and Bargy, County of Wexford, Ireland, London: J. Russell Smith, page 37 & 48