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From Middle English worse, werse, from Old English wyrsa, wiersa, wirsa, from Proto-Germanic *wirsizô. Cognate with Dutch wers (worse).




  1. comparative form of bad: more bad
    Your exam results are worse than before.
    The harder you try, the worse you do.
  2. comparative form of ill: more ill
    She was very ill last week but this week she’s worse.

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]




  1. comparative form of badly (adverb): more badly
    • 2013 July 19, Ian Sample, “Irregular bedtimes may affect children's brains”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 6, page 34:
      Irregular bedtimes may disrupt healthy brain development in young children, according to a study of intelligence and sleeping habits.  ¶ Going to bed at a different time each night affected girls more than boys, but both fared worse on mental tasks than children who had a set bedtime, researchers found.
    He drives worse than anyone I know.
  2. comparative form of ill: more ill.
    He's worse-mannered than she is.
  3. Less skillfully.
  4. More severely or seriously.
  5. (sentence adverb) Used to start a sentence describing something that is worse.
    Her leg is infected. Still worse, she's developing a fever.


worse (third-person singular simple present worses, present participle worsing, simple past and past participle worsed)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To make worse; to put at disadvantage; to discomfit.
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book 6”, in Paradise Lost. A Poem Written in Ten Books, London: Printed [by Samuel Simmons], and are to be sold by Peter Parker [] [a]nd by Robert Boulter [] [a]nd Matthias Walker, [], OCLC 228722708; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: The Text Exactly Reproduced from the First Edition of 1667: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, OCLC 230729554:
      Weapons more violent, when next we meet, / May serve to better us and worse our foes.



  1. (obsolete) Loss; disadvantage; defeat.
  2. That which is worse; something less good.
    Do not think the worse of him for his enterprise.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for worse in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)





  1. plural of wors