from The Century Dictionary.
- Badly provided for; not in comfortable circumstances: opposed to well-off.
Sorry, no etymologies found.
It never entered our heads to consider ourselves ill-off for that reason.
My Reminiscences Rabindranath Tagore 1901
The poor of Paris itself were not so very ill-off, for there were continual distributions of money and flour to keep them in good humour, and there were songs about.
Stray Pearls Charlotte Mary Yonge 1862
We demand Free-Trade, with much just vociferation and benevolence, That the poorer classes, who are terribly ill-off at present, may have cheaper New-Orleans bacon.
Past and Present Thomas Carlyle's Collected Works, Vol. XIII. Thomas Carlyle 1838
"'You mean,' says she, 'that he'll gie them awa to some ill-off body, as he gies near a' thing he has?
The Little Minister 1898
"I was almost as ill-off," he said to himself, "when I came here for work the first time, yet here I am -- alive, and likely to work again!
Warlock o' Glenwarlock George MacDonald 1864