Blog/Grammar tips
15 June 2022
3 min read

Synonyms for good and bad

We use the words 'good' and 'bad' to express how we feel about things, describe an experience, or talk about the quality of something. But on their own, the words aren't always enough. 

You'll need to use a stronger word when you want to add extra oomph to your writing. In turn, this can add more imagery for the reader and avoid you constantly using the same word. 

Let's look at what alternative synonyms you could use instead of good or bad to improve your writing and make your content more engaging. When choosing the correct synonym, you can try using different ones and taking the words in and out of your sentences to find the right one that will work. 

We've created a helpful list of all the definitions and synonyms for each one. 

Synonyms for good

There are plenty of different uses for 'good', so understanding exactly how you mean to use it will lead you to the correct synonym. Let's look at the definitions of good and their different synonyms, according to the Cambridge English Dictionary.


Example in a sentence


Being capable of doing something.

Henry is good at playing the piano. 

Accomplished, proficient, adept, skilled, gifted, able, talented, qualified

Something that's of a high standard.

Those new chairs are really good. 

Adequate, competent, all right, splendid, magnificent, quality, superior, outstanding


I am feeling good. 

Fine, tip-top, strong, sturdy, healthy, happy, robust 

Being morally good or displaying good virtue.

I know he's a good person.

Ethical, upstanding, lawful, noble, commendable, saintly, pure, principled

Now it is vital that you choose the right word when you're comparing synonyms. Using the wrong synonym can change the definition of your sentence. The second example above mentions words like 'adequate' and 'magnificent'. These are both synonyms of good but mean different things. 

Something that is adequate is generally only satisfactory and meets the standard you expected. But something that is magnificent would exceed expectations. So choose your synonyms carefully. 

Synonyms for bad

Similar to the above, different definitions for 'bad' exist. In every sense, bad is the opposite of good. Let's look at what 'bad' means and synonyms that you could use according to Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus. 


Example in a sentence


To be of a poor standard or low quality.

The forklift training is bad.

Inferior, unsatisfactory, pathetic, unacceptable, inadequate, faulty, shoddy, negligent, dire

Not nice

The way she behaved was bad.

Nasty, unpleasant, unwelcome, terrible, grim, dreadful, disagreeable

Causing pain or having unwelcome consequences.

I hurt myself badly.

Severe, serious, grave, critical, awful, ghastly

To be the opposite of moral, have no virtue.

That witch is bad.

Evil, reprehensible, immoral, wicked, deceitful, nefarious, villainous

Similarly to the word 'good', when you're adding in a synonym for bad, you want to make sure the definition meets the purpose of the sentence. As some of these synonyms can mean slightly different things depending on the word used. You'll choose the correct synonym you feel will work in your text to give it more impact. 

Using the right word in academic writing

When writing academically, your language needs to be eloquent and perfect. Using words like 'good' and 'bad' aren't going to be suitable. You'll want to use a better word that'll strengthen your argument. For students writing essays or doing critical reports, every word counts. It's not enough to say that something is only 'good' or 'bad'. 

For example, if you are writing a psychological analysis and commenting on someone's reaction to a particular experiment. It wouldn't be enough to say 'they had a bad reaction'. You'd need to delve deeper and explain precisely what the reaction was and the impact this had. 

Come back to this article and browse the synonyms above. You can even look elsewhere and compare synonyms until you find the perfect one. 

Summing up

When writing, to ensure you have more impact, you can add synonyms to put your case forward. This is important for different writing methods like work where you're writing for a company or academic writing. 

However, when looking up synonyms for words, always check that the meaning of the word remains the same. Some words can be counted as synonyms, but they don't have the exact same definition, so you could end up confusing readers. 

If you're looking for some support for finding accurate synonyms, you could download a thesaurus app or buy a physical one like Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus to see more examples. 

Try using several synonyms to see how your sentence looks with different synonyms before finding the right one. You will find the synonym to make your sentence work.

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