Sir: A phrase that's done to death these days is "feel badly." How can one "feel badly," I ask you?

- Dorothy M.Answer: By losing one's sense of touch, of course, which is clearly not what people mean when they say "I feel badly."

Why anyone who wouldn't think of saying "I feel goodly" insists on saying "I feel badly" is a mystery, but you hear it every day. And there's simply no excuse for it.

"`Feeling badly,"' Isaac Asimov once observed, "is the mark of an inept dirty old man."

Sir: Lately I've been hearing "looking to" a lot, as in "Our team is looking to stay unbeaten." It doesn't sound right, though my dictionary says it's OK. What do you think of it?

- Bill O.

Answer: I can take it or leave it. "Look to" is well-established as a phrase that means to expect or look forward to.

I imagine that if you heard it often enough it would seem perfectly natural, but if you didn't it wouldn't. That's the case with much of our language. Console yourself that, though others are entitled to use the expression, you can go all your life without using it and no one has the right to object.

Sir: I often hear a speaker say "Quote, unquote." What is your opinion of this practice?

- D.C.

Answer: Now that you ask, I think it's rotten. It's one thing to say "Quote," then begin a quotation, complete it, and say "Unquote." It's another thing, and a very silly thing at that, to babble "Quote, unquote." Sheesh!

Outraged comment of the week, from S.G.:

"This morning I heard a radio commercial saying you could name a star for your sweetheart for `forty dollars plus a charge for shipping and handling.' SHIPPING and HANDLING?"

Send questions, comments, and good and bad examples to Lydel Sims, Watch Your Language, 366 S. Highland, Apt. 410, Memphis, TN 38111. If you quote a book, please give author, title and page number. Sorry, but questions can be answered only through this column.