Slang. superl. of bad1 (def 36).
Nonstandard. a superl. of bad1 .
not good in any manner or degree.
having a wicked or evil character; morally reprehensible:
There is no such thing as a bad boy.
of poor or inferior quality; defective; deficient:
a bad diamond; a bad spark plug.
inadequate or below standard; not satisfactory for use:
bad heating; Living conditions in some areas are very bad.
inaccurate, incorrect, or faulty:
a bad guess.
invalid, unsound, or false:
a bad insurance claim; bad judgment.
causing or liable to cause sickness or ill health; injurious or harmful:
Too much sugar is bad for your teeth.
suffering from sickness, ill health, pain, or injury; sick; ill:
He felt bad from eating the green apples.
not healthy or in good physical condition; diseased, decayed, or physically weakened:
A bad heart kept him out of the army.
tainted, spoiled, or rotten, especially to the point of being inedible:
The meat is bad because you left it out of the refrigerator too long.
having a disastrous or detrimental effect, result, or tendency; unfavorable:
The drought is bad for the farmers. His sloppy appearance made a bad impression.
causing or characterized by discomfort, inconvenience, uneasiness, or annoyance; disagreeable; unpleasant:
I had a bad flight to Chicago.
easily provoked to anger; irascible:
a bad temper.
cross, irritable, or surly:
If I don’t have my morning coffee, I’m in a bad mood all day.
more uncomfortable, persistent, painful, or dangerous than usual; severe:
a bad attack of asthma.
causing or resulting in disaster or severe damage or destruction:
a bad flood.
regretful, contrite, dejected, or upset:
He felt bad about having to leave the children all alone.
disobedient, naughty, or misbehaving:
If you’re bad at school, you’ll go to bed without supper.
disreputable or dishonorable:
He’s getting a bad name from changing jobs so often.
displaying a lack of skill, talent, proficiency, or judgment:
a bad painting; Bad drivers cause most of the accidents.
causing distress; unfortunate or unfavorable:
I’m afraid I have bad news for you.
not suitable or appropriate; disadvantageous or dangerous:
It was a bad day for fishing.
inclement; considered too stormy, hot, cold, etc.:
We had a bad winter with a lot of snow.
disagreeable or offensive to the senses:
a bad odor.
exhibiting a lack of artistic sensitivity:
The room was decorated in bad taste.
not in keeping with a standard of behavior or conduct; coarse:
bad manners.

vulgar, obscene, or blasphemous:
bad language.
not properly observing rules or customs of grammar, usage, spelling, etc.; incorrect:
He speaks bad English.

unattractive, especially because of a lack of pleasing proportions:
She has a bad figure.
(of the complexion) marred by defects; pockmarked or pimply; blemished:
bad skin.
not profitable or worth the price paid:
The land was a bad buy.
Commerce. deemed uncollectible or irrecoverable and treated as a loss:
a bad debt.
ill-spent; wasted:
Don’t throw good money after bad money.
counterfeit; not genuine:
There was a bad ten-dollar bill in with the change.
having the character of a villain; villainous:
In the movies the good guys always beat the bad guys.
Sports. failing to land within the in-bounds limits of a court or section of a court; missing the mark; not well aimed.
Slang. outstandingly excellent; first-rate:
He’s a bad man on drums, and the fans love him.
that which is bad:
You have to take the bad with the good.
a bad condition, character, or quality:
His health seemed to go from bad to worse.
(used with a plural verb) evil persons collectively (usually preceded by the):
The bad are always stirring up trouble.
He wanted it bad enough to steal it.
bad off, in poor or distressed condition or circumstances; destitute:
His family has been pretty bad off since he lost his job.
Also, badly off.
Compare well-off.
go to the bad, to deteriorate physically or morally; go to ruin:
She wept at seeing her son go to the bad.
in a bad way, in severe trouble or distress.
in bad, Informal.

in trouble or distress.
in disfavor:
He’s in bad with his father-in-law.

my bad, Slang. my fault! my mistake!
not bad,

tolerably good; not without merit:
The dinner wasn’t bad, but I’ve had better.
not difficult:
Once you know geometry, trigonometry isn’t bad.

Also, not so bad, not too bad.
too bad, unfortunate or disappointing:
It’s too bad that he didn’t go to college.
to the bad, in arrears:
He’s $100 to the bad on his debt.
Contemporary Examples

Yeah, Petraeus screwed up, but the guy has spent his life fighting the baddest of bad guys and getting shot at.
Let Alpha Males Like David Petraeus Cheat! Michelle Cottle November 13, 2012

Enter the baddest bug in the forest—a little black beetle with a whole lot of speed.
The 20 Best Super Bowl Commercials The Daily Beast Video February 6, 2011

Goldfinger is simply the richest and baddest man in England.
James Bond is Back But is He Any Good without Fleming? Robert McCrum October 4, 2013

Historical Examples

Here Edward established a reputation for being the “baddest” boy in America.
Over Here Hector MacQuarrie

She ees the most baddest Mademoiselle zat I have een my class.
Girls of Highland Hall Carolyn Watson Rankin

It was a stream of the baddest names known out here, an’ lots I never heard of.
The Man of the Forest Zane Grey

Under the Second Empire, Paris was at her maddest, baddest, and best.
Real Soldiers of Fortune Richard Harding Davis

Whoever took my bag, I hope hell have the baddest kind of luck.
The Corner House Girls Among the Gypsies Grace Brooks Hill

Of his particular master he spoke thus: “He was one of the baddest men about Prince George; he would both fight and kill up.”
The Underground Railroad William Still

It’s dreadful hard work, too; keeps him out for days and nights, over bad roads and baddest weather.
A Protegee of Jack Hamlin’s and Other Stories Bret Harte

adjective worse, worst
not good; of poor quality; inadequate; inferior: bad workmanship, bad soil, bad light for reading
(often foll by at) lacking skill or talent; incompetent: a bad painter, bad at sports
(often foll by for) harmful: bad air, smoking is bad for you
immoral; evil: a bad life
naughty; mischievous; disobedient: a bad child
rotten; decayed; spoiled: a bad egg
severe; intense: a bad headache
incorrect; wrong; faulty: bad pronunciation
ill or in pain (esp in the phrase feel bad)
regretful, sorry, or upset (esp in the phrase feel bad about)
unfavourable; distressing: bad news, a bad business
offensive; unpleasant; disagreeable: bad language, bad temper
not valid or sound; void: a bad cheque
not recoverable: a bad debt
(slang) badder, baddest. good; excellent
go from bad to worse, to deteriorate even more
go bad, to putrefy; spoil
(informal) in a bad way

seriously ill, through sickness or injury
in trouble of any kind

in someone’s bad books, See book (sense 21)
make the best of a bad job, to manage as well as possible in unfavourable circumstances
(informal) not bad, not so bad, passable; fair; fairly good
(informal) not half bad, very good
(informal) too bad, (often used dismissively) regrettable
unfortunate or unpleasant events collectively (often in the phrase take the bad with the good)
an immoral or degenerate state (often in the phrase go to the bad)
the debit side of an account: £200 to the bad
(US & Canadian, informal) my bad, my fault or mistake
(not standard) badly: to want something bad
a variant of bade

obsolete or colloquial superlative of bad, common 14c.-18c.

c.1200, “inferior in quality;” early 13c., “wicked, evil, vicious,” a mystery word with no apparent relatives in other languages.* Possibly from Old English derogatory term bæddel and its diminutive bædling “effeminate man, hermaphrodite, pederast,” probably related to bædan “to defile.” A rare word before 1400, and evil was more common in this sense until c.1700. Meaning “uncomfortable, sorry” is 1839, American English colloquial.

Comparable words in the other Indo-European languages tend to have grown from descriptions of specific qualities, such as “ugly,” “defective,” “weak,” “faithless,” “impudent,” “crooked,” “filthy” (e.g. Greek kakos, probably from the word for “excrement;” Russian plochoj, related to Old Church Slavonic plachu “wavering, timid;” Persian gast, Old Persian gasta-, related to gand “stench;” German schlecht, originally “level, straight, smooth,” whence “simple, ordinary,” then “bad”).

Comparative and superlative forms badder, baddest were common 14c.-18c. and used as recently as Defoe (but not by Shakespeare), but yielded to comparative worse and superlative worst (which had belonged to evil and ill).

As a noun, late 14c., “evil, wickedness.” In U.S. place names, sometimes translating native terms meaning “supernaturally dangerous.” Ironic use as a word of approval is said to be at least since 1890s orally, originally in Black English, emerging in print 1928 in a jazz context. It might have emerged from the ambivalence of expressions like bad nigger, used as a term of reproach by whites, but among blacks sometimes representing one who stood up to injustice, but in the U.S. West bad man also had a certain ambivalence:

These are the men who do most of the killing in frontier communities, yet it is a noteworthy fact that the men who are killed generally deserve their fate. [Farmer & Henley]

*Farsi has bad in more or less the same sense as the English word, but this is regarded by linguists as a coincidence. The forms of the words diverge as they are traced back in time (Farsi bad comes from Middle Persian vat), and such accidental convergences exist across many languages, given the vast number of words in each and the limited range of sounds humans can make to signify them. Among other coincidental matches with English are Korean mani “many,” Chinese pei “pay,” Nahuatl (Aztecan) huel “well,” Maya hol “hole.”


Good; excellent; admirable: real bad licks/ bad man on drums •The use is attested from slavery times, when this sense was marked by a lengthened vowel and a falling tone in pronunciation (1920s+ esp black teenagers)

Related Terms

so bad one can taste it
French Banque africaine de développement (African Development Bank)

bad blood
bad egg
bad hair day
bad luck
bad mouth
bad name
bad news
bad off
bad sort, a
bad taste
bad time
bad trip


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