What Does Worse for Wear Mean?

Worse for the Wear Meaning

Definition: In bad condition because of long use.

Origin of Worse for Wear

This expression is quite old and appears in the first edition of John Heywood’s glossary of proverbs in the year 1546.

  • Al thyng is the wors for the wearyng.

This translates into as things are used, they wear and deteriorate. After worse for wear became a popular expression, a new expression came about: none worse for the wear, meaning used but not worn out.

Similar expressions to worse for wear are worn out and wear and tear.

Examples of Worse for Wear

no worse for the wear In the example below, two friends are discussing what to do for the evening.

Ted: Okay, I’m ready to go dancing at the clubs! Come on. Let’s go in my car.

Rufio: Are you sure you want to go in your car?

Ted: Yeah! Why not?

Rufio: Well, I know how much you love your car, but it’s almost twenty years old!

Ted: Yeah, it’s a classic!

Rufio: No, I mean that your car is looking a little worse for wear. If we want people to think we’re cool, we probably shouldn’t let them see your old, worn out car.

Ted: I’m offended! I love my car!

Rufio: I know! And it’s a good car, but it’s just not right for tonight.

none the worse for wear This dialogue shows two friends talking together about an old game they have from their days in university.

Zayna: Hey, look what I found!

Ben: Oh, wow! I had forgotten about that. Where did you find it?

Zayna: It was in the back of my closet. I found it when I was cleaning everything out last weekend.

Ben: I thought I’d never see our old party game. Do you think we should use it the next time we invite people over to hang out?

Zayna: Haha, I don’t know. The game is a little worse for wear. We used it so much back in the day that the board is all torn up, and some of the pieces are lost.

Ben: We could replace the lost pieces, and repair the broken parts. Here, give it to me. I’ll work on making it look nicer during the week, and we can play it next weekend.

Zayna: Okay, that sounds great! Let’s do it!

More Examples

The excerpt below is about a band that performed. Some people at the concert thought the band didn’t seem as good as the first time they played in the area, over ten years before.

  • 1978: The band made its O.C. debut with two concerts at Anaheim Stadium. Tickets were $12.50 in advance, $15 day of show. Some concertgoers complained that the Stones often appeared “a little bleary and worse for wear and tear.” –OC Register

This excerpt is about a man who got hit with a vehicle but wasn’t injured.

  • The now-famous Segway incident occurred after Bolt’s victory in the 200 meters last year at the world championships. While taking a victory lap, a multitasking photographer slammed into the back of Bolt’s legs with his scooter. Bolt bounced up and was no worse for wear. –OC Register


The idiom worse for wear means in a declined state because of prior handling.