19 other words for ‘bad’

The word ‘bad’ is one that is frequently used in English, and yet there are many other different words you can use instead to be more specific and make your writing more interesting.

There are several different meanings of ‘bad’, so decide on the meaning you want before choosing a suitable synonym.

If you want a synonym for ‘bad’ to say that something is awful or harmful, here are some alternative words you could use:

appallingThe weather for our sports day was appalling.
damagingCar fumes can be highly damaging to the environment.
dangerousBuilding sites are dangerous places.
dreadfulIt was a dreadful shame that the weather was so bad for the party.
seriousThe artist’s illness was too serious for him to continue painting.
terribleOur team was terrible today. We lost by four goals!

If something is ‘bad’ because it is not of a very good quality, use one of the words below:

abysmal“Such abysmal work is not acceptable,” said Mr Malone severely.
atrociousThe reporter admitted that his spelling was atrocious.
faultyEngineers soon fixed the faulty telephone line.
inferiorThe paint we bought was of inferior quality and didn’t last very long.
shoddyOwing to shoddy workmanship, the house had to be redecorated.
unsatisfactoryThe inspectors said just under a third of lessons were unsatisfactory.

To describe someone as ‘bad’ when they are being unkind or not behaving well, try one of these words:

cruelI can’t stand people being cruel to children or animals.
disobedienthe disobedient boy ignored the warning notice and fell into the quarry.
evilThe programme was about the country’s most evil criminals.
mischievousTying Kerry’s shoelaces together was a mischievous prank.
naughty“You’re a naughty girl, Cassandra,” said her mother angrily.
unkind It was unkind to go without asking her.
wickedThe wicked witch lived alone.

Look at the Thesaurus entry for bad to find other synonyms and examples.

All opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions or policies of Collins, or its parent company, HarperCollins.

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