“Bad” Synonym Guide — Definition, Antonyms, and Examples

A synonym is an alternative for a word. Synonyms help us describe things in a more nuanced way, rather than to use the same term again and again. One word can have multiple synonyms – a common synonym for badis poor, but there are more.

This article explores the definition of the term ‘bad,’ its synonyms, and antonyms.

Definition of Bad

The English term ‘bad’ originates from Middle English bad, badde (“wicked, evil, depraved”). Bad connotes something unfavorable; negative; or without good.

The dictionary defines bad as “being of poor quality or low standard,” something that is not hoped for or desired; unpleasant or unwelcome.

  • The car’s tire is bad; it needs to be changed urgently.
  • I had the leave the room because of the bad smell.
  • The machine got bad after you poured water on it.
  • I feel bad about what happened to your brother.
  • That was a bad mistake; what would you do now?
  • I have bad news for you; you didn’t qualify for the job post.
  • I feel bad that I broke your brother’s favorite toy.

Synonym for Bad — Exploring Words with Similar Meanings

A popular synonym for bad is poor. Others include unpleasant, unsatisfactory, inadequate, deficient, substandard, inferior, awful, and terrible.

1. Poor

‘Poor’ originates from Middle English povre, povere, Old French povre, poure, Latin pauper, Old Latin *pavo-pars (literally “getting little”), and from Proto-Indo-European *peh₂w- (“few, small”).

The term describes a state of being with no or few possessions. When something is bad, it is of low quality, deficient in a specified way, inadequate, or insufficient.

  • The report Johnson presented was poor.
  • This write-up is too poor; you’ll need to work on it again.

2. Unpleasant

The term ‘unpleasant’ is from Middle English unplesaunt, equivalent to un- +‎ pleasant. It describes something that is not pleasant, not amicable, or agreeable.

  • Drugs have an unpleasant smell; I can’t imagine taking any.
  • The way John spoke and acted was rather unpleasant.

3. Unsatisfactory

The term is from un- +‎ satisfactory. Satisfactory is from Old French satisfactoire or medieval Latin satisfactorius. Something is said to be unsatisfactory when it isinadequate or substandard.

  • The number of people who signed up for the competition was unsatisfactory, so it had to be canceled.
  • My supervisor termed my work unsatisfactory, so I cannot move to the next submission stage.

4. Inadequate

‘Inadequate’ is from in-, “opposite of,” and adequate “enough.” Inadequate means “insufficient to produce the desired end.”

  • The information provided by the library was grossly inadequate for our research.
  • June’s popularity and success made her friend feel inadequate.

5. Deficient

Deficient is from Latin deficiens, present participle of deficere (“to lack, fail, be wanting”). Deficient means lacking something essential. The term describes something insufficient or inadequate in amount.

  • A calcium-deficient diet leads to weak bones.
  • The room was deficient in oxygen; we almost suffocated.

Antonyms for Bad — Exploring Words with Opposite Meanings

1. Acceptable

The term is from Middle English acceptable, Old French acceptable, and Late Latin acceptābilis (“worthy of acceptance”). The term describes someone/something worthy, decent, and sure of being received with at least moderate pleasure.

  • This behavior is not acceptable!
  • Developing socially acceptable behavior is essential for children.

2. Adequate

Adequate originates from Latin adaequatus, past participle of adaequare (“to make equal to”); ad + aequare (“to make equal”), aequus (“equal”). The term denotes something Equal to or fulfilling some requirement.

  • Will the food be adequate for six of you?
  • This bed isn’t adequate for the two of us.

3. Decent

The word ‘decent’ is from Middle French décent, Latin decēns, Proto-Indo-European *deḱ- (“to take, accept, to receive, greet, be suitable”). Decent means conforming to basic moral standards; showing integrity, fairness, or other characteristics associated with moral uprightness.

  • You look decent in that dress.
  • I’m famished! I could use a decent meal right now.

4. Good

The term is from Middle English good, Old English gōd, and Proto-West Germanic *gōd. Good means “acting in the interest of what is beneficial, ethical, or moral.” It also means something useful for a particular purpose; functional.

  • John had good intentions toward Martha; I don’t know why she doubted him.
  • The watch is still good.
MacBook Pro, white ceramic mug,and black smartphone on table
Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

To Wrap Up

A synonym guide will come in handy when you want to use a seemingly “fresh” phrase to replace a word in your piece. This guide provides you with synonym for bad, antonyms and sentence examples to help you better understand how to use the terms.

Pam is an expert grammarian with years of experience teaching English, writing and ESL Grammar courses at the university level. She is enamored with all things language and fascinated with how we use words to shape our world.

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