badly


badly
bad, badly
1. After the verb feel, bad is an adjective complement (meaning either ‘guilty, ashamed’ or ‘unwell’) rather than an adverb:

• To be absolutely honest, what I feel really bad about is that I don't feel worse —Michael Frayn, 1965.

After to be and most other verbs, badly is required: Things started to go badly for them / They sank seventeen ships and badly damaged eight more / Russia badly needed Finish products / We are not too badly off. In these cases, bad is used only informally or in dialect:

• I only came cause she's so bad off —L. Hellman, 1934.

2. In a slang (principally youth slang) use originating in US Black English, bad means the very opposite of its traditional meaning, i.e. ‘excellent, very good’, and in this meaning even has special degrees of comparison badder, baddest:

• She said that part of the problem was that they often wanted to distinguish themselves by being badder than their rivals. Badder? Surely the comparative of bad is worse? But then worse has connotations of being less good at doing something. —Spectator, 1993.

This is a good example of how one of the most basic words can be twisted and pulled in all directions, rather as wicked and mean have been in the past.

Modern English usage. 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • badly — [adv1] inadequately abominably, awkwardly, blunderingly, carelessly, clumsily, crudely, defectively, erroneously, faultily, feebly, haphazardly, imperfectly, incompetently, ineffectively, ineptly, maladroitly, negligently, poorly, shoddily,… …   New thesaurus

  • badly — ► ADVERB (worse, worst) 1) in an unsatisfactory, unacceptable, or incompetent way. 2) severely; seriously. 3) very much. ● badly off Cf. ↑badly off …   English terms dictionary

  • badly — [bad′lē] adv. worse, worst 1. in a bad manner; harmfully, unpleasantly, incorrectly, wickedly, etc. 2. Informal very much; greatly [to want something badly]: Also used informally as an adjective meaning “sorry,” although bad is preferred in… …   English World dictionary

  • Badly — Bad ly, adv. In a bad manner; poorly; not well; unskillfully; imperfectly; unfortunately; grievously; so as to cause harm; disagreeably; seriously. [1913 Webster] Note: Badly is often used colloquially for very much or very greatly, with words… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • badly — c.1300, unluckily; late 14c., wickedly, evilly; poorly, inadequately, from BAD (Cf. bad) + LY (Cf. ly) (2) …   Etymology dictionary

  • badly — [[t]bæ̱dli[/t]] ♦♦♦ worse, worst 1) ADV GRADED: ADV with v If something is done badly or goes badly, it is not very successful or effective. I was angry because I played so badly... The whole project was badly managed... The coalition did worse… …   English dictionary

  • badly — bad|ly [ bædli ] (comparative worse [ wɜrs ] ; superlative worst [ wɜrst ] ) adverb *** 1. ) in a way that is not skillful, effective, or successful: She spoke French so badly I couldn t understand her. a badly organized meeting do badly… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • badly */*/*/ — UK [ˈbædlɪ] / US adverb Word forms badly : comparative worse UK [wɜː(r)s] / US [wɜrs] superlative worst UK [wɜː(r)st] / US [wɜrst] 1) in a way that is not skilful, effective, or successful She spoke French so badly I couldn t understand her. a… …   English dictionary

  • badly — /bad lee/, adv., worse, worst, adj. adv. 1. in a defective, incorrect, or undesirable way: The car runs badly. 2. in an unsatisfactory, inadequate, or unskilled manner: a vague, badly written letter; He paints badly. 3. unfavorably: His neighbors …   Universalium

  • badly — adverb comparative worsesuperlative worst 1 in an unsatisfactory or unsuccessful way: The company has been very badly managed. | Pearce played pretty badly in yesterday s semi final. | badly made furniture | do badly (=not be successful): Rob did …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • badly — bad|ly W3S2 [ˈbædli] adv comparative worse [wə:s US wə:rs] superlative worst [wə:st US wə:rst] 1.) in an unsatisfactory or unsuccessful way ≠ ↑well ▪ The company has been very badly managed. ▪ The novel was translated badly into English. ▪ badly… …   Dictionary of contemporary English


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