"From Worse to Worse/Worst"

Posted by Paul Guthrie on October 20, 2001

In Reply to: "From Worse to Worse/Worst" posted by Steve O'Rourke on October 19, 2001

: Which is it? We see in popular media the phrase as "if things go from worse to worse" but that seems logically incorrect. It must be "from worse to worst". That would also parallel the construction "when things go from bad to worse". I'm looking for both authpority on this point but also credible origin. If Shakespeare wrote "worse to worse" then I'm stuck!

The first thing is that 'worse' is only perception in the minds of humans. Things are as they are, and they are not actually better or worse, just different. While one person may see something as 'worse' another may see the same as 'better'!

Logically though I do not see a problem with going from 'worse to worse', it just means that one situation is 'worse' than the last and indirectly predicts that there may still be 'worse' to come. I have purposely put 'worse' in quotations here just to keep in context that 'worse' really is nothing but a judgment or a perception, it's not actually how things are.

It is well known that the media gets better ratings from reporting bad news. If they said that something went from 'worse to worst' they would be reporting that the worst possible thing has now happened, and they would lose their ratings hook because everyone would know that there is nothing else bad (or worse) that will be reported in the future!

I would challenge you or anyone reading this post that the next time you hear reported by the media that something has gone from 'worse to worse' say immediately to yourself or whomever, "I disagree! I think the situation is actually improved by ... (whatever it is)" and just see whether there may be a case for that position also!