Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: worse

Type: Article

Feeling the worse for wear? You could do worse than catch up with Tim Bowen’s newest selection of idioms!

‘The country’s economic performance has taken a turn for the worse in recent months’. Meaning to deteriorate, the same expression can also be used in a medical context for people, as in ‘After taking a turn for the worse last week, grandad now seems to be making a recovery from his lung infection’.

If a person is described as the worse for wear, this normally means that he or she is drunk, as in ‘I don’t know if you saw Paul yesterday evening but he was definitely the worse for wear at about seven o’clock’. Alternatively, if an object is described as the worse for wear it means it is old and not in good condition, for example, ’That jumper is looking rather the worse for wear. Better throw it away.’

If you are none the worse after a bad experience, you have come out of it largely unscathed, as in ‘We lost our cat a couple of weeks ago but she came back last night and seems none the worse for her adventure’.

If a situation could be worse, it is better than it might have been, although it is still bad, as in ‘It could be worse. At least they didn’t steal your credit cards too’.

The expression you could do worse is used to say that you think something is fairly good (usually in an understated way), as in ‘If you are looking for a job that pays well, you could do worse than become a lawyer’.

For better or (for) worse is used to show that you do not know whether an action, situation or change will have good or bad results, as in ‘For better or worse, we are stuck with this manager until the end of the season. Let’s see how results turn out in the end’.

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