ill

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See also: I'll and Ill.

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Middle English ille ‘evil, wicked’, from Old Norse illr (adj.), illa (adv.), ilt (noun) (whence Danish ilde), from Proto-Germanic *elhilaz, from Proto-Indo-European *h₁elḱ- (whence Latin ulcus ‘sore’, Ancient Greek hélkos ‘wound, ulcer’, Sanskrit árśas ‘hemorrhoids’).[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

ill (comparative more ill, superlative most ill)

  1. (obsolete) Evil; wicked (of people). [13th-19th c.]
    • Francis Atterbury (1663-1732)
      St. Paul chose to magnify his office when ill men conspired to lessen it.
  2. (archaic) Morally reprehensible (of behaviour etc.); blameworthy. [from 13th c.]
    • 1999, George RR Martin, A Clash of Kings, Bantam 2011, p. 2:
      ‘Go bring her. It is ill to keep a lady waiting.’
  3. Indicative of unkind or malevolent intentions; harsh, cruel. [from 14th c.]
    He suffered from ill treatment.
  4. Unpropitious, unkind, faulty, not up to reasonable standard.
    ill manners;   ill will
    • 1959, Georgette Heyer, chapter 1, 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.
  5. Unwell in terms of health or physical condition; sick. [from 15th c.]
    I've been ill with the flu for the past few days.
  6. Having an urge to vomit. [from 20th c.]
    Seeing those pictures made me ill.
  7. (hip-hop slang) Sublime, with the connotation of being so in a singularly creative way. [This sense sometimes declines in AAVE as ill, comparative iller, superlative illest.]
    • 1994, Biggie Smalls, The What
      Biggie Smalls is the illest / Your style is played out, like Arnold wonderin "Whatchu talkin bout, Willis?"
  8. (slang) Extremely bad (bad enough to make one ill). Generally used indirectly with to be.
    That band was ill.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The comparative forms iller and illest are used in American English, but less than one fourth as frequently as the "more" and "most" forms.

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

  • (suffering from a disease): fine, hale, healthy, in good health, well
  • (having an urge to vomit):
  • (bad): good
  • (in hip-hop slang: sublime): wack

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Help:How to check translations.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Michiel de Vaan, Etymological Dictionary of Latin and the Other Italic Languages, s.v. "ulcus" (Leiden: Brill, 2008), 637.

Adverb[edit]

ill (comparative more ill, superlative most ill)

  1. Not well; imperfectly, badly; hardly.
    • 1992, Rudolf M. Schuster, The Hepaticae and Anthocerotae of North America: East of the Hundredth Meridian, volume V, page 3
      In both groups, however, we find copious and intricate speciation so that, often, species limits are narrow and ill defined.
    • 1994, Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, Abacus 2010, p. 541:
      His inflexibility and blindness ill become a leader, for a leader must temper justice with mercy.
    • 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 9780745633800, page 40:
      Is it because this supposes an undifferentiated violence towards others and oneself that I could ill imagine in a woman?

Synonyms[edit]

Antonyms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

ill (plural ills)

  1. (often pluralized) Trouble; distress; misfortune; adversity.
    • William Shakespeare
      That makes us rather bear those ills we have / Than fly to others that we know not of.
    • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, chapter 4, 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.
    Music won't solve all the world's ills, but it can make them easier to bear.
  2. Harm or injury.
    I wouldn't want you to do me ill.
  3. Evil; moral wrongfulness.
    • John Dryden
      Strong virtue, like strong nature, struggles still, / Exerts itself, and then throws off the ill.
  4. A physical ailment; an illness.
    I am incapacitated by rheumatism and other ills.
  5. Unfavorable remarks or opinions.
    Do not speak ill of the dead.
  6. (US, slang) PCP, phencyclidine.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  • Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed., 1989.
  • Random House Webster's Unabridged Electronic Dictionary, 1987-1996.

Statistics[edit]

Anagrams[edit]



Scots[edit]

Adjective[edit]

ill (comparative waur, superlative warst)

  1. ill
  2. bad, evil, wicked
  3. harsh, severe
  4. profane
  5. difficult, troublesome
  6. awkward, unskilled

Adverb[edit]

ill (comparative waur, superlative warst)

  1. ill
  2. badly, evilly, wickedly
  3. harshly, severely
  4. profanely
  5. with difficulty
  6. awkwardly, inexpertly

Noun[edit]

ill (plural ills)

  1. ill
  2. ill will, malice