Bad Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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According to George Washington, “It’s better to be alone than in bad company.” That said, what exactly does the word bad mean, and where did it come from? We’ll tell you. 

Read on as we explore the word bad to uncover its definition, origin, usage, and more. By the end of this post, you will have an improved understanding of this commonly used word and even feel comfortable using it in a sentence. 

What Is the Definition of Bad?

Our word of the day can be defined in a number of different ways, so we went ahead and compiled a short list of definitions for you to review below:

  • The Collins Dictionary says something that is bad is harmful, unpleasant, or undesirable. You can also use “bad” to indicate that something undesirable is severe or great in degree. 
  • According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word bad can be defined as not successful or not able to do something well. Additionally, bad can mean evil or morally unacceptable. 

Simply put, when something isn’t good — it’s bad. For example, bad milk has gone sour. A bad toddler gets punished. Bad people go to jail. And when someone does something wrong, they might say, “My bad.”

Note: The comparative and superlative forms of bad are worse and worst.

What Is the Origin of the Word Bad?

The history behind the word bad is a bit fuzzy, but it is most likely derived from the Old English derogatory word bæddel and its diminutive bædling, meaning “effeminate man, hermaphrodite, pederast,” which probably are related to bædan, meaning “to defile.”

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Bad?

To further your understanding of the word bad, it can be helpful to review its synonyms and antonyms. What are synonyms and antonyms, you ask?

Simply put, a synonym is a word or expression that has the same or nearly the same meaning as another, whereas an antonym is a word that has the opposite meaning of another word. 


  • Atrocious
  • Awful
  • Cheap
  • Crummy
  • Decayed 
  • Dreadful
  • Poor
  • Badly
  • Rough
  • Lousy
  • Sad
  • Unacceptably
  • Inferior
  • Abysmal
  • Brutal
  • Deplorable
  • Pathetic


  • Good
  • Excellent
  • Skilled
  • Ok
  • Great
  • Lucky
  • Pleasing
  • Sophisticated
  • Superior
  • Beneficial
  • Benevolent
  • True
  • Right
  • Worthy
  • Undecayed

How Can You Use Bad in a Sentence?

There are many ways that you can use the word bad in a sentence. Not sure how? Here are a few sentence examples for you to review below: 

“Mark had a really bad temper after his favorite football team lost.”

“Avery stopped going on social media because it was full of bad news.”

“I wouldn’t hang out with Darlene… she’s a bad apple.”

“If you have bad manners, then you’ll be punished for being a bad boy.”

“The milk in the fridge smelt really bad, so I threw it out.”

“Kelly got in trouble for writing a bad check to the bank”

“The weather is really bad today.”

“Please let me know if you need some help on this project… I don’t want you doing a bad job.”

“Gosh, I am having a bad hair day!”

“I am craving sweets in a bad way right now!”

“Oh, did I do that? Sorry, my bad.”

“Although it can be really difficult to break bad habits, it’s not impossible.”

“Toby isn’t a bad person — he’s just in a bad mood!”

“There are a lot of bad guys out there, so please be careful when walking in the dark.”

“If you ask me, bad luck and bad days usually go hand in hand.”

“Billy’s remarks were in bad taste.”

“We are going to have to reschedule our trip to the amusement part due to the bad weather.”

“If you don’t want to have a bad time, I suggest you start socializing with everybody.”

“Elsa may be ice cold but she certainly doesn’t have a bad heart!”

“Kylie is bad to the bones and not to be trusted.”

“The meat is bad and not safe for consumption.”

What Are Translations of Bad?

Now that you are up to speed on the meaning behind “bad,” you might be wondering how to say our word of the day in a different language. Not to worry; we’ve got you covered. 

Translations of the adjective bad — synonymous with unpleasant — are as follows:

  • American English — bad  
  • Arabic — سَيِّء 
  • Brazilian Portuguese — mau 
  • Chinese (simplified) — 劣质的 
  • Croatian — loš 
  • Czech — špatný 
  • Danish — dårlig 
  • British English — bad
  • Dutch — slecht 
  • Japanese — 悪い 
  • Korean — 나쁜 
  • Norwegian — dårlig 
  • Polish — zły niedobry
  • European Portuguese — mau 
  • Romanian — rău
  • Russian — плохой 
  • Spanish — malo 
  • Swedish — dålig 
  • Thai — แย่, ไม่ดี
  • Turkish — kötü 
  • Ukrainian — поганий
  • Vietnamese — tồi
  • European Spanish — malo 
  • Finnish — huono 
  • French — mauvais 
  • German — schlecht 
  • Greek — κακός 
  • Italian — cattivo

Translations of the adjective bad — synonymous with wicked — are as follows:

  • Danish — slem
  • Dutch — slecht
  • European Spanish — malo 
  • Finnish — paha
  • French — mauvais 
  • American English — bad 
  • Arabic — رَدِيء
  • British English — bad
  • Brazilian Portuguese — mau 
  • Chinese (simplified) — 坏的人
  • Croatian — loš
  • Japanese — 悪い
  • Korean — 안 좋은
  • Norwegian — slem
  • Polish — zły
  • European Portuguese — mau 
  • Romanian — rău
  • Russian — плохой
  • Spanish — malo 
  • Swedish — dålig
  • Thai — เลวร้าย
  • Turkish — kötü
  • Ukrainian — шкідливий
  • Vietnamese — xấu
  • Czech — zlobivý
  • German — schlecht 
  • Greek — κακός
  • Italian — cattivo

Bottom Line

The word bad simply means unfavorable or morally objectionable (aka evil). It can be used when referring to food that has spoiled, someone’s poor attitude, and something that is unpleasant — such as “bad” news. 


Bad Definition & Meaning | Britannica Dictionary

Bad definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

BAD: definition | Cambridge English Dictionary