Meaning of WORSE in English



1. worse

2. to become worse

3. to make a bad or difficult situation worse

4. worst

5. when someone who is ill becomes worse




see also




1. worse

▷ worse /wɜːʳs/ [adjective]

more unpleasant, annoying, bad etc, or of a lower standard or quality than someone or something else that is also bad :

▪ I really don’t think the situation could be any worse.

worse than

▪ Conditions in the prison were worse than anything I had seen before.

▪ Stop it Gary, you’re worse than the kids!

even/far worse

worse than something that is very bad

▪ Duncan’s handwriting is even worse than his sister’s.

▪ a terrible script and even worse acting

a lot worse/much worse

▪ The traffic is a lot worse after five o'clock.

▪ The next morning, the weather was much worse, and the team stayed at base camp.

make something worse

▪ I tried to fix the computer myself, but that just made it worse.

▷ not as good /ˌnɒt əz ˈgʊd/ [adjective phrase]

of a lower standard, quality, or level than something else that is good :

▪ I like this town better than Harrisburg, but the schools aren’t as good.

not as good as

▪ This book is not as good as her last one.

▪ The fishing out there isn’t as good as it used to be.

not nearly as good as/nowhere near as good as

use to emphasize that the difference in quality is quite big

▪ Their latest album isn’t nearly as good as their last one.

▪ Cheap, plastic-wrapped cheese is nowhere near as good as the real thing.

▷ inferior /ɪnˈfɪ ə riəʳ/ [adjective] formal

of a lower quality than something else, or less good at doing something than someone else :

▪ Consumers are tired of paying a high price for what is an increasingly inferior service.

▪ California oil is a heavier and inferior grade of oil, compared with other crude oils.

inferior to

▪ Old Mr Carter was convinced that women doctors were inferior to men.

inferior in quality/status/worth etc

▪ White bread is generally inferior in nutritional value.

of inferior quality/materials/status etc

▪ Their furniture is certainly cheaper, but it’s of inferior quality.

▷ not be in the same league/can’t compare with /nɒt biː ɪn ðə ˌseɪm ˈliːg, ˌkɑːnt kəmˈpeəʳ wɪðǁˌkænt-/ [verb phrase] especially spoken

use this to emphasize that someone or something is not nearly as good as someone or something else :

▪ How can you compare him to Ivan Lendl? He’s not in the same league at all.

▪ Vinyl is strong and looks good but it doesn’t compare with real leather.

not be in the same league as

▪ It’s quite a good movie but not in the same league as ‘High Noon’ or ‘The Magnificent Seven’

▷ not be a patch on /nɒt biː ə ˈpætʃ ɒn/ [verb phrase] British informal

use this to emphasize that something is not nearly as good as something else, especially something that came before it :

▪ Shop-bought pasta sauces aren’t a patch on home-made.

▪ This year’s charity marathon wasn’t a patch on last year’s.

2. to become worse

▷ get worse /ˌget ˈwɜːʳs/ [verb phrase]

▪ The food here gets worse every day.

▪ My eyesight must be getting worse.

▪ I don’t think things can get much worse!

get worse and worse

▪ The tension in the flat got worse and worse, and Kate thought about moving out.

▪ Paul’s behaviour seems to get worse and worse.

▷ deteriorate /dɪˈtɪ ə riəreɪt/ [intransitive verb] formal

to gradually become worse :

▪ If the dispute drags on, conditions in the city could deteriorate.

▪ The US trade position has deteriorated over the past few years.

deteriorate rapidly

▪ Air quality is rapidly deteriorating in our cities.

deteriorate to the level/point/stage where . . .

to deteriorate so much that a particular problem is caused

▪ School buildings have deteriorated to the point where they pose a health threat to both students and teachers.

deterioration /dɪˌtɪ ə riəˈreɪʃ ə n/ [uncountable noun]

▪ the further deterioration of relations between the two countries

deteriorating [adjective]

▪ our deteriorating road network

▪ deteriorating standards of living

▷ go down/decline /ˌgəʊ ˈdaʊn, dɪˈklaɪn/ [intransitive verb]

to become gradually worse - use this especially about the quality or standard of something :

▪ He’s been very unhappy and depressed recently, and his work has definitely gone down.

▪ The quality of life for pensioners in this country has certainly declined recently.

go right down


▪ The standard of service has gone right down since the company was privatized.

declining [adjective]

▪ Educationalists are worried about what they see as declining standards of literacy.

▷ worsen /ˈwɜːʳs ə n/ [intransitive/transitive verb]

if a bad situation worsens, or something worsens it, it becomes worse :

▪ The weather worsened during the night.

▪ The government’s bungling attempts to help have only worsened the refugees’ plight.

▪ The situation was worsened by Roy’s tendency to drink heavily in times of stress.

worsening [adjective]

▪ The worsening economic conditions here have destroyed many small businesses.

▪ worsening air pollution

▷ go from bad to worse /ˌgəʊ frəm ˌbæd tə ˈwɜːʳs/ [verb phrase]

if a situation goes from bad to worse, it is already bad and then becomes even worse :

▪ The rail service has gone from bad to worse since it was privatised.

▪ Things went from bad to worse, and soon the pair were barely talking to each other.

▷ go downhill /ˌgəʊ daʊnˈhɪl/ [verb phrase]

to start getting worse, especially after a particular time or event :

▪ Moving in together was a mistake, and things rapidly went downhill.

▪ When things started to go downhill, Kyle began looking for another job.

▪ I said I didn’t like baseball, and the interview went downhill from then on.

▷ suffer /ˈsʌfəʳ/ [intransitive verb]

if the quality of something suffers, it becomes worse as it begins to be affected by something :

▪ His school work suffered because he was continually worried about his mother.

▪ The ferry line denied that safety would suffer if costs were cut.

▪ Her husband, a lawyer, suffered professionally for having to leave the office early every night.

▷ slip /slɪp/ [intransitive verb]

if standards slip, they get worse, because people are not trying hard enough to keep the standards high :

▪ Standards have slipped in the past few months, and we have to try and improve our performance.

let things slip

▪ He used to make sure his apartment was in immaculate condition, but he’s let things slip recently.

▷ deepen /ˈdiːpən/ [intransitive verb]

if a bad situation deepens, it gets worse - use this especially about serious political or military problems :

▪ As the crisis deepened, it became clear that the government was losing control.

▪ The company’s legal and financial problems are deepening.

deepening [adjective]

▪ There was an atmosphere of deepening discontent in the country.

▪ deepening political and economic troubles

▷ degenerate /dɪˈdʒenəreɪt/ [intransitive verb] formal

if a situation degenerates, it becomes much worse :

▪ There’s no denying that our relationship has degenerated over the years.

degenerate into

▪ Attempts by the UK government to prop up the pound on the exchange markets degenerated into chaos.

▪ What should have been a civilised debate degenerated into an unseemly row between the two sides.

▪ Don’t allow your comments to degenerate into a personal attack on the employee.

3. to make a bad or difficult situation worse

▷ make things worse/make it worse /ˌmeɪk θɪŋz ˈwɜːʳs, ˌmeɪk ɪt ˈwɜːʳs/ [verb phrase]

to make a bad or difficult situation even worse, especially when you were trying to improve it :

▪ Don’t interfere. You’ll only make things worse.

▪ Trying not to laugh aloud made it worse, and for a moment or two, they were both helpless with suppressed laughter.

▪ Why not try running the anti-virus software? It can’t make things any worse, can it?

▷ to make matters/things worse /tə ˌmeɪk mætəʳz, θɪŋz ˈwɜːʳs/ [adverb]

use this to talk above something that makes a bad situation even worse :

▪ To make matters worse, the director’s gone on holiday without leaving anyone in charge.

▪ To make things worse, Jimmy suddenly announced he’d left his passport at home.

▷ aggravate /ˈægrəveɪt/ [transitive verb]

to make a bad or difficult situation even worse :

▪ Air pollution may aggravate a child’s asthma.

▪ Is the pain aggravated by coughing or laughing?

▪ Any talk of price rises now will only aggravate an already serious situation.

▷ exacerbate /ɪgˈzæsəʳbeɪt/ [transitive verb] formal

to make a bad or difficult situation even worse :

▪ The family’s problems were exacerbated when Walter lost his job.

▪ Ironically, the government’s reassurances may have exacerbated fear about the disease.

▷ compound /kəmˈpaʊnd/ [transitive verb usually in passive]

if something compounds a problem, mistake, or difficulty, it adds to the existing problem so that the general situation gets even worse than before :

▪ Strong nationalist sentiment is compounding the deep political problems faced by the President.

be compounded by

▪ John and Val’s domestic problems were compounded by stress at work.

▪ The effects of the East Coast snows this year were compounded by severe storms in the spring.

▷ to add insult to injury /tʊ æd ˌɪnsʌlt tʊ ˈɪndʒəri/ [adverb]

use that to say that something makes a bad situation worse for someone, by unfairly giving them another problem that relates to or is a result of the original one :

▪ The bank not only refused to refund the money but, to add insult to injury, charged me for the letter telling me so!

4. worst

▷ worst /wɜːʳst/ [adjective only before noun]

worse than anything else or worse than at any time before :

▪ In my opinion, that’s the worst movie of all time.

▪ The doctor said it was one of the worst cases of food poisoning he’d ever seen.

▪ UN workers were withdrawn from the western areas, where the worst bloodshed has occurred.

by far the worst

much worse than any other

▪ It’s by far the worst neighborhood in the whole city.

▪ First thing in the morning is by far the worst time to ask Dad a favour.

▷ hit/reach rock bottom /ˌhɪt, ˌriːtʃ rɒk ˈbɒtəmǁ-rɑːk ˈbɑːtəm/ [verb phrase]

if a situation hits or reaches rock bottom, it is worse than it has ever been before, and cannot get any worse than that :

▪ After we lost the contract, morale in the office reached rock bottom.

▪ Confidence in the city’s police force has hit rock bottom.

▷ something takes the cake also something takes the biscuit British / something ˌteɪks ðə ˈkeɪk, something ˌteɪks ðə ˈbɪskə̇t/ [verb phrase] spoken informal

use this to say that something is the worst of its kind - used especially in a humorous way :

▪ I’ve known some idiots in my time, but you really take the cake.

▪ This last little escapade really takes the biscuit, Tom.

5. when someone who is ill becomes worse

▷ get worse /ˌget ˈwɜːʳs/ [verb phrase]

if someone who is ill gets worse or their condition gets worse, they become more seriously ill :

▪ I’m afraid your father is getting worse, and we’ll have to keep him in hospital.

▪ The chest pains got worse, and the family doctor was called.

▷ deteriorate /dɪˈtɪ ə riəreɪt/ [intransitive verb] formal

if someone’s medical condition deteriorates, it gets worse :

▪ Nina’s hearing had deteriorated considerably since I last saw her.

▪ His condition deteriorated rapidly during the night.

▷ relapse /rɪˈlæps/ [intransitive verb not in progressive]

if someone who has a serious illness relapses, they get worse when they had previously been getting better :

▪ On vacation at home, he relapsed and had to return to hospital for further tests.

▪ Most drug abusers relapse within a year.

relapse [countable noun usually singular]

have/suffer a relapse

▪ Grandad had an unexpected relapse and died within a week.

▪ These herbal remedies become less effective if the patient suffers a relapse.

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