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Bad

E4 Bad Word Web

Bad

Exceptional Expressions For Everyday Events

Bad is an adjective that can be applied to many unfortunate situations. The word bad can be used to refer to quality, behavior, or state of being. As an evaluative word, bad, together with its many synonyms and alternative expressions, could be used very productively in a word line exercise. Food that goes bad is unhealthy or unusable. A child’s bad behavior may be called inappropriate. A student might consider his bad test score as dreadful or atrocious. Bad news could be disheartening or even devastating.

Follow-Ups

  • How is being rude different from being naughty?
  • What are some situations that might be awful, but not ruinous?
  • How is a terrible situation different from a horrific situation?
  • What does the phrase “the deal went sour” mean?

The Spanish Connection

Linguists are not certain of the origin of bad. Most likely, bad was an old English word. The Spanish word for bad is malo or mal. Although the Spanish word is not a cognate, the prefix mal- (which came from French or Latin) is a helpful tool for students. The word malice itself is a noun meaning the desire to do something bad or evil. Mal- as a prefix often turns a word into something bad or faulty. To malfunction is to not function properly. Malodorous is to smell bad.

Word Changes

  • Although some people inappropriately add the suffixes -er and -est to bad, the adverb badly contains the only inflected suffix for bad.
  • A very common misuse of the adverb badly is “He feels badly” instead of “He feels bad.” To say “He feels badly” means that there is something wrong with the person’s sense of touch.
  • In contemporary slang, bad can be used almost as its opposite. Calling a pair of shoes bad may mean that the shoes are cool or fashionable. Most often this term is said with enthusiasm or exclamation.
  • Care should be taken to not over extend the application of the prefix mal-. Words such as malamute, male, or mallard do not share this prefix.
  • The origin of the idiom “between a rock and a hard place” is unknown, but its meaning is clear: To be caught between a rock and a hard place is to be stuck in a bad situation where both available options are difficult or undesirable.
E4 Bad Morphology Web

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