Aubrey Carter
"3 Keys IELTS Certified Coach"
Jessica Beck
"Director of IELTS Training"

Today you’ll learn vocabulary that seems negative, but when used as slang can have a positive connotation!

These words are wicked, sick and ill and they will make you sound like a native!

We’ll also tell you about a tricky one that is outdated and should no longer be used.

We are focusing on Writing in our upcoming webclass!

So many of our students are working on improving their IELTS Writing scores.

In our next live webclass, February 24 and 25, we share our expert advice on why and how to write an Argument Essay.

Sign up today to reserve your spot for this free webclass!

Words with double meanings can be extremely confusing

One of our students posted in the 3 Keys IELTS Facebook group asking about the word “wicked.”

The dictionary informed him that it can mean “very bad” or “very good.”

How can you know which meaning is intended?

He got his answer right away, because this Facebook community is extremely active, and we answer all questions within 24 hours.

This Facebook group is exclusive to members of our study system, so sign up today!

Today we are going to share this answer with you, as well as other tricky words with double meanings.

Strategies Created by a Former IELTS Examiner

3 Keys IELTS Online Course logo

100% Score Increase Guarantee with our Insider Method

Are you ready to move past IELTS and move forward with your life vision?

Find out why our strategies are the most powerful in the IELTS world.

When you use our Insider Method you avoid the BIGGEST MISTAKES that most students make on IELTS.

Click here to get a score increase on IELTS. It’s 100% guaranteed.

Where will you see these words on the IELTS exam?

It is very unlikely that you will hear slang like these in the Listening audio.

In general, slang that has cultural connotations is not included in this audio.

It would be fantastic, however, to use it on the Speaking exam!

Using this type of slang on Speaking Part 1 shows the range the Examiner needs to see to give you a high score.

It is very high level informal vocabulary, and will make you sound like a native!

#1: Wicked

The dictionary meaning of this word is bad or evil, with a very negative connotation.

However, it is also used as slang to mean really good or awesome!

You will know which is intended from the context.

  • “I got a wicked new car.”
  • You can tell from the context that this is clearly positive.

However, intonation is also important!

If you say it with a monotone and don’t let your excitement show in your voice, your meaning could be confusing.

On the All Ears English podcast, Lindsay interviewed Massimo, who joined us for the Urban English Adventure in Boston.

He heard natives in Boston using wicked to mean good.

This helped him make connections with native speakers!

You can use it as an adverb for emphasis.

  • Her house is wicked awesome.
  • My friend is wicked smart.
  • She is wicked good at that.

#2: Sick

This is often collocated with sports.

  • That was a sick snowboarding move!
  • She has a sick volleyball serve!
  • That guy is sick at soccer!

It is also often heard when someone is playing a video game.

  • That was a sick move!

#3: Ill

Interestingly, the dictionary definition for this word is a parallel for sick.

  • That car over there is ill!

If you hear this expression, you know they think that is the coolest car that exists!

On Speaking Part 2, if you’re asked to describe a party you have attended, you could say:

  • It was the illest party I have ever been to!

The Examiner would be extremely impressed by this native, band 9 phrase.

#4: Bad

A few decades ago, this word was commonly used to mean cool.

You will hear it in older movies and music.

This is outdated, and we don’t use it to mean good anymore.

It has been replaced by wicked, sick and ill.

One of the powers of 3 Keys IELTS is that you know it is the newest, most updated information.

Once you sign up, you are immediately added to our close-knit Facebook group.

There you can ask questions such as these to make sure you are using vocabulary correctly!


There are many words in English with double meanings!

The words we teach you today can be especially confusing, because their meanings are opposites!

The words wicked, sick and ill are all used as slang to mean really good, cool or awesome.

Join the 3 Keys IELTS Success System today so you can always have the most updated information!

What questions do you have from today’s episode?

Please leave a comment below.

  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X
  • App-Store-Button
  • google-play-badge
  • Badges (1)
  • Badges-1 (1)
  • Badges-2 (1)
  • US_ListenOn_AmazonMusic_button_black_RGB_5X