What does ill mean?


Ill is another way to describe something as cool, impressive, or awesome. For example, if you are impressed by your friend's house, you might say, "Your crib is ill, bruh!"

While the traditional meaning of ill is associated with feeling unwell, the slang variation rose to prominence through rap and hip-hop culture in the 1980s and has evolved over the years. For example, hip-hop group Run DMC used it as another way to say "crazy" in their 1986 song "You be Illin'" while the hip-hop group Beastie Boys used it in a positive sense (being cool), including in their 1986 album Licensed to Ill.

Through the years, the definition has merged through different rap and hip-hop songs, becoming a term for describing crazy good things. Today, you may see or hear people use ill in real life (IRL), in songs, online, and in messages, for things they find cool.

For example, a rando on the bus may remark, "That tat is ill, bruh! Where'd you get inked?" Or, your friend might rave about the new superhero movie as an "ill time."


That show last night was ill! I loved the lights and pyrotechnics!
Srsly. It was awesome!

Beastie Boys being ill

Related Slang


Updated May 9, 2023

Ill definition by

This page explains what the slang term "Ill" means. The definition, example, and related terms listed above have been written and compiled by the team.

We are constantly updating our database with new slang terms, acronyms, and abbreviations. If you would like to suggest a term or an update to an existing one, please let us know!