11 Other Ways to Say “Bad News”

Are you looking for another way of saying “bad news”? Well, you’re in the right place!

This article will explore some synonyms for “bad news” that might help you present bad things in a more positive way.

The following alternatives are great options:

  • Unpleasant
  • Unwelcome
  • Unfortunate
  • Unfavorable
  • Adverse
  • Nasty
  • Terrible
  • Dreadful
  • Grim
  • Regrettable
  • Distressing

Keep reading to learn more about the best synonyms for “bad news.” We’ve explained each one and how to use them in different contexts.

1. Unpleasant

“Unpleasant” shows that news is bad or unenjoyable. It’s a great adjective to include when you know someone will not take something well.

It warns them that you have something bad to tell them. Sometimes, it’s helpful to tell someone something is “unpleasant” before you say it.

The definition of “unpleasant,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “not pleasant.”

Here are some examples to help you understand it:

  • I have something unpleasant to tell you. You might need to sit down.
  • So, this is going to be unpleasant, but I think you need to hear it from me.

2. Unwelcome

“Unwelcome” suggests that someone does not accept or want the news. Therefore, it’s most commonly associated with “bad news,” as people will never accept or want bad news in their lives.

You should use it when you know someone will not embrace the news. If you worry that it might adversely affect them, “unwelcome” is a great choice.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “unwelcome” as “not wanted or welcome.”

Check out the following examples to see how it works:

  • That is most unwelcome to me. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do with that information.
  • It’s very unwelcome news. I’ll do what I can to ensure the family is kept healthy.

3. Unfortunate

“Unfortunate” shows that something bad has happened. “Fortunate” relates to luck, meaning that bad luck has occurred, leading to the news you’re forced to share.

Nobody wants to deliver bad news. However, “unfortunate” might help to take the sting out of the news if you use it correctly.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “unfortunate” as “marked or accompanied by or resulting in misfortune.”

How about referring to the examples below to see how it works:

  • She was caught in something most unfortunate, and I’m not sure if she’ll ever get back to normal.
  • It’s certainly unfortunate, but there’s nothing we can do about it now.

4. Unfavorable

“Unfavorable” is a great adjective synonym. You can use it when you know someone won’t like the news shared with them.

It implies that the news does not favor them because it goes against what they would like to hear.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “unfavorable” as “not pleasing.”

Here are a few examples to help you understand it:

  • What you’ve told me is quite unfavorable, but we’ve got contingencies in place to help us.
  • It’s unfavorable, but we’ll see if there’s anything else we can do to change things.

5. Adverse

“Adverse” is a decent synonym choice. You can use it when you think bad news will hurt someone’s feelings, even though you have to share it with them.

Recognizing something as “adverse” is good because it shows compassion. However, sometimes, you’re forced to share adverse news with people you care about to help them through tough times.

The definition of “adverse,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “causing harm.”

These examples will help you understand it better:

  • It’s quite adverse news, to be honest. I certainly didn’t expect to hear that today.
  • She gave me adverse messages. So, I think we need to figure out what to do next.

6. Nasty

“Nasty” is a basic synonym that works well. It replaces “bad,” showing that something is unpleasant or unenjoyable.

The definition of “nasty,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “sharply unpleasant.”

Here are a few examples that might help you make more sense of it:

  • That’s so nasty, and I wish you didn’t tell me about it. I don’t know how to react.
  • It’s nasty information to take. Feel free to take a few moments before responding.

7. Terrible

“Terrible” is a strong adjective synonym. It’s a step above “bad,” making it a very powerful choice as a synonym.

You should only use “terrible” when something really bad has happened. That way, you can warn the person you’re speaking to that they should expect something uncomfortable or heartbreaking.

The definition of “terrible,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “notably unattractive or objectionable.”

How about checking out the following examples to help you:

  • What you’ve told me today is truly terrible. I hope there’s something we can do to correct things.
  • This is so terrible! There must be some way for us to get through this without further problems.

8. Dreadful

“Dreadful” is another powerful adjective you can use as a synonym. You should only use it when delivering terrible news that’s bound to upset someone.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “dreadful” as “extremely bad, distasteful, unpleasant, or shocking.”

Check out the following examples to help you;

  • That’s so dreadful to hear. I wish there was something I could do to make things better.
  • It’s quite dreadful, honestly. I wasn’t expecting you to tell me any of that.

9. Grim

“Grim” is a decent synonym, though it’s not one you’ll hear often. You should use it when you have sad or worrying news to give someone.

It’s a good adjective choice because it shows you understand the negative emotions someone may feel.

The definition of “grim,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “somber or gloomy.”

You might benefit from referring to the examples below:

  • That’s very grim, and I’m not sure what to do with it. I suppose I should be grateful, though.
  • It’s too grim for me to handle. I wish there was someone to help me here.

10. Regrettable

“Regrettable” is a great synonym if you do not want to share bad news. However, if you are the only person who can give bad news to someone, you may regret giving it to them.

You can say “regrettable” when you are apologetic for giving someone bad news. It shows you care about them and do not want to upset them.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “regrettable” as “deserving regret.”

These examples will help you understand more about it:

  • It’s regrettable, but we couldn’t avoid the situation. We hope you understand.
  • You’ve told me something regrettable, so now I have to deal with the consequences.

11. Distressing

“Distressing” is an excellent synonym that shows you understand how someone feels. It shows you are about to give them bad news which will cause them pain or suffering.

It’s a good way to warn someone that bad news is coming. That way, they can brace themselves before you deliver it, which might take some of the negativity away.

The definition of “distressing,” according to The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, is “to subject to great strain or difficulties.”

The following examples should show you how to use it in a sentence:

  • I know this is distressing, and it’s a lot to take. I’m still here if you need anything else from me.
  • She’s not going to take it so well. It’s far too distressing for most people to handle.