10 English Words that mean good (and 10 that mean bad)

Are you tired of saying “good” all the time when you use English? Is there a particular kind of good (or bad) that you want to talk about, but don’t know the right word or expression? 

Well, lucky for you, English has an enormous variety of words to express positivity or negativity. Here are 20 of our favourites. 

  1. GOOD- AWESOME

Awesome means excellent; very good. We use it to express excitement or enthusiasm for something as well. 

Examples

“I passed my driving test!” “Awesome” 

“How awesome was that concert!?” 

  1. BAD- GRIM

Grim is a popular expression in the UK especially. It used to mean something that was very serious or a bit depressing and scary, especially when you’re talking about a place. Now, though, we use it more to talk about a situation that is disgusting or very unpleasant, or something to do with death. 

Examples 

“January painted a grim picture for how the rest of 2020 would turn out.” 

“Have you been to the bathrooms in this train station? Mate, they are grim.” 

  1. GOOD- DOPE

This is a very informal expression that should not be used at work or in formal situations, but is good with friends. Much like awesome, dope can be used to agree to something enthusiastically or to mean excellent. When used as a noun, dope can also mean illegal drugs or a stupid person- so don’t call someone a dope! 

Examples 

“You coming to this party tonight?” 

“Yeah I’ll be there.” 

“Dope!” 

“To be fair that car is pretty dope.” 

  1. BAD- TERRIBLE

Terrible simply means very very bad. We use it to describe situations or to express if someone is really really bad at doing something. 

Examples

“I failed my driving test again. I’m so terrible at parking.” 

“Did you see the weather forecast for the week? Looks terrible.” 

  1. GOOD- MOREISH 

Moreish means something is good in a way that makes you want more of it. It’s most often used to talk about food. 

Examples

“That pizza is so moreish- I’ve had seven slices already!” 

  1. BAD- AWFUL 

Much like terrible, awful is used to describe situations where things are really bad. It can also be used to emphasize the extent of something, usually (but not always) something negative. 

Awful is an interesting word because it has the same root as awesome- awe- but the two words mean almost the opposite of each other. (make another blog post and link to it later)

Examples

“What is that awful smell?” 

“I’d love to go to the beach this weekend but it’s such an awfully long way away.” 

  1. GOOD- EPIC

Epic comes from ancient Greece, where an epic was a long poem about the adventures of some heroic character or great event. It is still used to talk about long stories portraying great heroes or incredible adventures- The Marvel Cinematic Universe could be considered a kind of modern-day epic. Now though, it also means impressive or heroic. 

Use Epic when you want to describe something that is good in a particularly impressive way. 

Examples

“Remember that bit in The Lord of the Rings when Eowyn kills the Witch King? Man, that’s such an epic scene.” 

  1. BAD- SHODDY

If something doesn’t work properly or is badly made, we would call that shoddy. 

Examples

“Shoddy craftsmanship is not acceptable!” 

“He did a shoddy job fixing his car- the door isn’t even the same colour.” 

  1. GOOD- SWEET

Chocolate is sweet. Cheesecake is sweet. Grapes are sweet. Anything that tastes sugary tastes sweet, but we also use sweet to express appreciation or to talk about a person who is especially nice. 

Examples

“You remembered my dog’s birthday? That’s so sweet!” 

“Can I get a lift to school tomorrow?” 

“Sure man.” 

“Sweet.” 

  1. BAD- THE PITS

As low as it gets. As bad as a situation can possibly be. 

Examples 

“I had food poisoning once- it’s the pits.” 

  1. GOOD- THE BEES KNEES

Don’t ask where this expression comes from- no one knows for sure, though there are a few theories. Bees store pollen on their knees, so all that sugary goodness concentrated in one place is pretty sweet. 

When something is the bees knees, it’s really really good. 

Example 

“That cake is the bees knees! Where did you get it?” 

  1. BAD- RUBBISH

Trash. Garbage. The stuff you throw away. Rubbish can be used as an adjective, or to express when you think someone is lying.

Examples

“Have you heard Cardi B’s new single? I think it’s rubbish.” 

“Actually I think it’s the best song I’ve ever heard.” 

“Rubbish! No you don’t!” 

  1. GOOD- DELIGHTFUL

Something light, happy, and beautiful can be called delightful. 

Examples

“There’s this delightful little cafe just down the street, we should go for lunch there.” 

“This bird is wearing a top hat! How delightful!” 

  1. BAD- DIRE

If something is really serious in a bad way, it’s dire. In the UK we also use it to describe things that are extremely bad. 

Examples

“If you are not home by midnight there will be dire consequences.” 

“That dessert was absolutely dire.”

  1. GOOD- SUPERLATIVE

Superlative literally means the most, or the best. If something is the best, you can use it as an exclamation. Superlative is quite a formal expression, but there’s no harm in using it for fun- Personally i think it’s a fun word to say. 

Example

“Who’s the superlative boxer, Tyson or Ali?” 

“You made the shot from half-court? Superlative!” 

  1. BAD- GHASTLY

This one is a little old-fashioned but much like superlative it’s fun to say. Something that is bad in a very scary way. (I think it’s also a Pokémon?)

Examples

“I’m not going into that old abandoned house- it looks ghastly.” 

  1. GOOD- SMASHING

Another old-but-gold one for you, smashing can be used as an expression when something is great or impressive. 

Example

“I’m making my famous home-made ice cream for dessert.” 

“Ooh, smashing!” 

  1. BAD- UGLY

Something or someone is ugly if they look bad. You can also use ugly to describe a dangerous situation. Often used in crime dramas. 

Example 

“Better get home before the football match is over- if those fans start arguing it could get ugly.” 

“Good lord you’re ugly!” 

  1. GOOD- DIVINE

Divine means relating to God or angels, but we also use it to describe anything that’s so good it could have come from heaven. 

Example

“Who wrote that song? It’s divine!” 

  1. BAD- DIABOLICAL

On the opposite side of divine we have diabolical- meaning relating to the Devil or the ultimate evil. Sometimes we use this in a more joking way- if someone does something very sneaky we could call them diabolical. 

Examples 

“Conditions in the prison are diabolical.” 

“My roommate was annoying me so I put some honey in his shower gel. Now when he showers it will make his skin all sticky.” 

“Dude, that is diabolical.”