\ ˈwel How to pronounce well (audio) \

Definition of well

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a : an issue of water from the earth : a pool fed by a spring
2a : a pit or hole sunk into the earth to reach a supply of water
b : a shaft or hole sunk to obtain oil, brine, or gas
3a : an enclosure in the middle of a ship's hold to protect from damage and facilitate the inspection of the pumps
b : a compartment in the hold of a fishing boat in which fish are kept alive
4 : an open space extending vertically through floors of a structure
5a : a space having a construction or shape suggesting a well for water
b : the area behind a bar in which items used most frequently by a bartender are kept
6a : something resembling a well in being damp, cool, deep, or dark
b : a deep vertical hole
c : a source from which something may be drawn as needed
7 : a pronounced minimum of a variable in physics a potential well


welled; welling; wells

Definition of well (Entry 2 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to rise to the surface and usually flow forth tears welled from her eyes
2 : to rise like a flood of liquid longing welled up in his breast

transitive verb

: to emit in a copious free flow


better\ ˈbe-​tər How to pronounce better (audio) \; best\ ˈbest How to pronounce best (audio) \

Definition of well (Entry 3 of 5)

1a : in a good or proper manner : justly, rightly
b : satisfactorily with respect to conduct or action did well in math works well under pressure
2 : in a kindly or friendly manner spoke well of your idea wished them well
3a : with skill or aptitude : expertly, excellently paints well
b : satisfactorily the plan worked well
c : with good appearance or effect : elegantly carried himself well
4 : with careful or close attention : attentively watch well what I do
5 : to a high degree well deserved the honor a well-equipped kitchen often used as an intensifier or qualifierthere are … vacancies pretty well all the timeListener
6 : fully, quite well worth the price
7a : in a way appropriate to the facts or circumstances : fittingly, rightly well said
b : in a prudent manner : sensibly used with doyou would do well to reread the material
8 : in accordance with the occasion or circumstances : with propriety or good reason cannot well refuse the decision may well be questioned
9a : as one could wish : pleasingly the idea didn't sit well with her
b : with material success : advantageously married well
10a : easily, readily could well afford a new car
b : in all likelihood : indeed it may well be true
11 : in a prosperous or affluent manner he lives well
12 : to an extent approaching completeness : thoroughly after being well dried with a towel
13 : without doubt or question : clearly well knew the penalty
14 : in a familiar manner knew her well
15 : to a large extent or degree : considerably, far well over a million
as well
1 : in addition : also there were other features as well
2 : to the same extent or degree : as much open as well to the poor as to the rich
3 : with equivalent, comparable, or more favorable effect might just as well have stayed home

Definition of well (Entry 4 of 5)

1 used to indicate resumption of discourse or to introduce a remarkthey are, well, not quite what you'd expect
2 used to express surprise or expostulationwell, what have we here?

Definition of well (Entry 5 of 5)

b : being in satisfactory condition or circumstances
2 : being in good standing or favor
3 : satisfactory, pleasing all's well that ends well
4 : advisable, desirable it might be well for you to leave
5a : free or recovered from infirmity or disease : healthy he's not a well man
b : completely cured or healed the wound is nearly well
6 : pleasing or satisfactory in appearance our garden looks well— Conrad Aiken
7 : being a cause for thankfulness : fortunate it is well that this has happened
8 of liquor : used for making mixed drinks when no branded alcohol is specified also : made with well liquor a well drink

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Choose the Right Synonym for well


healthy, sound, wholesome, robust, hale, well mean enjoying or indicative of good health. healthy implies full strength and vigor as well as freedom from signs of disease. a healthy family sound emphasizes the absence of disease, weakness, or malfunction. a sound heart wholesome implies appearance and behavior indicating soundness and balance. a face with a wholesome glow robust implies the opposite of all that is delicate or sickly. a lively, robust little boy hale applies particularly to robustness in old age. still hale at the age of eighty well implies merely freedom from disease or illness. she has never been a well person

Good vs. Well: Usage Guide


Adverbial good has been under attack from the schoolroom since the 19th century. Insistence on well rather than good has resulted in a split in connotation: well is standard, neutral, and colorless, while good is emotionally charged and emphatic. This makes good the adverb of choice in sports. "I'm seeing the ball real good" is what you hear — Roger Angell In such contexts as listen up. And listen good — Alex Karras lets fly with his tomatoes before they can flee. He gets Clarence good — Charles Dickinson good cannot be adequately replaced by well. Adverbial good is primarily a spoken form; in writing it occurs in reported and fictional speech and in generally familiar or informal contexts.

Good vs. Well: Usage Guide


An old notion that it is wrong to say "I feel good" in reference to health still occasionally appears in print. The origins of this notion are obscure, but they seem to combine someone's idea that good should be reserved to describe virtue and uncertainty about whether an adverb or an adjective should follow feel. Today nearly everyone agrees that both good and well can be predicate adjectives after feel. Both are used to express good health, but good may connote good spirits in addition to good health.

Examples of well in a Sentence

Noun his quirkily dysfunctional family proved to be a bottomless well of inspiration for the novelist the spot where the spring bubbles up to the surface and forms a deep well Adverb “How did everything go?” “It went well, thank you.” She works well under pressure. I did surprisingly well on my history test. The company is doing well. He has his own business and is doing well for himself. You got a perfect score! Well done! She sings and plays the guitar quite well. The essay is well written. He doesn't smoke or drink, and he eats well. She doesn't treat her boyfriend very well. Adjective The children are well again. I don't feel very well. You don't look so well. I hope you get well soon. I hope all is well with you and your family.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The evidence that free markets enhance the well-being of the poor is compelling. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "The Capital Letter: Week of September 7," 11 Sep. 2020 That closure separated children from their friends and their broader community network, and seems to have had an impact on their mental well-being. Jen Christensen, CNN, "Covid-19 school closings linked to increase in depression and suicide, study finds," 11 Sep. 2020 This is essential for her own well-being, self-fulfillment and direction in life. Aurelie Corinthios, PEOPLE.com, "Tamar Braxton's Ex David Adefeso Speaks Out, Claims She 'Attacked' Him While He Was Driving," 10 Sep. 2020 The future of our country, and the well-being of its Black populace, still relies on the outcome of the current calls for social justice and societal change. Justin Phillips, SFChronicle.com, "Equality in the Bay Area means letting Black hair grow," 10 Sep. 2020 Tekin says, may fail to make changes in their life that could improve their emotional well-being. Grace Huckins, Wired, "Mental Health in the US is Suffering—Will It Go Back to Normal?," 8 Sep. 2020 Chase, who works as a content architect for KinderCare Education, and Leo meet with his educators over Zoom weekly to check in on his social emotional well-being and discuss his academic progress. oregonlive, "In 2020, back-to-school means Zoom meetings and a rush to cobble together childcare," 7 Sep. 2020 Supported across North and Central Texas by Baylor Scott & White Foundations, donors enable the system to pursue its mission to promote the well-being of all individuals, families and communities. Dallas News, "Baylor Scott & White Health," 6 Sep. 2020 Diamond said the county’s financial well-being is tied to its physical health. Ryan Gillespie, orlandosentinel.com, "Florida tells health officials not to release coronavirus data about schools," 3 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Wright’s body language changed from an unbothered slouch to an attentive and direct as his eyes began to well with tears. Eplunus Colvin, USA TODAY, "Arkansas sheriff resigns after leaked audio of racist rant draws protesters, backlash," 30 Aug. 2020 The drink menu will offer a range of beverages from craft cocktails to well drinks and beer. Tirion Morris, The Arizona Republic, "Central Phoenix is getting a new restaurant and bar. Here's what to know about Industry," 22 Aug. 2020 Even before the coronavirus and economic turbulence, riders were peeling away from BART with complaints about visible homelessness, crime, and fare evasion — issues that will keep welling up if the agency can’t add to its police force. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "BART financial future: ‘Balanced but precarious’," 28 May 2020 The trademark chant of the protests — the people want the fall of the regime — seemed to well up from the seething crowd itself rather than any individual author. Robert F. Worth, New York Times, "Tragedy in the Middle East," 12 May 2020 Tears welled in his eyes when Thae started singing South Korea’s national anthem with his supporters. Fox News, "North Korean defector wins seat in South Korean parliament," 17 Apr. 2020 Ajami, 24 and a Dearborn native, leaned forward on his couch, tugged at his black 49ers T-shirt and dabbed at the tears welling in his eyes. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Robert Saleh, the 'pride and joy' of Dearborn, on cusp of Super Bowl glory," 2 Feb. 2020 This dispiriting sense often wells up at the next step of the student finance complex: filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Caitlin Zaloom, Time, "How the Student Debt Complex Is Crushing the Next Generation of Americans," 29 Oct. 2019 After repeated listens to more than 60 Isbell songs and corresponding analysis, by the end, tears were literally welling up in my eyes. Matt Wake | Mwake@al.com, al, "Jason Isbell’s hang outs with Lady Gaga, Springsteen, Bradley Cooper," 4 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Tofino is well known for being a busy, tourist-friendly surf town while Ucluelet is for people who are looking for a more laid back getaway, Lonely Planet reported. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "This New Bike Trail Will Connect Canada's Best Surf Towns, Beaches, Hiking Trails, and More," 16 Sep. 2020 The impact of Russia's use of social media to manipulate the 2016 US presidential election is by now well known. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Facebook’s latest hollow effort to fight climate change denial," 16 Sep. 2020 His public work is well known in Huntsville, where his first mural is still on exhibit at EarlyWorks Children’s Museum. Michelle Matthews | Mmatthews@al.com, al, "Meet Jahni the Artist, a teacher behind some of Huntsville’s public art," 16 Sep. 2020 The restaurant opened in 2014 and quickly became well-known for its all-day brunch. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "Dime Store, a popular breakfast and lunch spot in downtown Detroit, reopens," 15 Sep. 2020 By 2011 this history was well known to everyone assembled in the conference room of the San Francisco Westin—where Wallach himself sat in the audience, watching DeBeauvoir from a distance. Benjamin Wofford, Wired, "A Texas County Clerk’s Bold Crusade to Transform How We Vote," 15 Sep. 2020 Takenaka is well-known in Japan as an architect of reforms undertaken by former Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during the early 2000s. Toru Fujioka, Bloomberg.com, "Takenaka Urges Japan’s Suga to Make Mark With Quick Progress," 15 Sep. 2020 Yet so much attention remains focused on the most visible and well-known programs, their role – and the potential for exploitation and harm – in many other disasters remains overlooked. J. Carlee Purdum, The Conversation, "Disaster work is often carried out by prisoners – who get paid as little as 14 cents an hour despite dangers," 15 Sep. 2020 Johnson was particularly well-known for his work as a hearing officer for the Chicago Police Board. Steve Schering, chicagotribune.com, "Details emerge in killings of prominent Oak Park attorney couple," 12 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Interjection On the top, the tower-clutter summit of Greens Peak can be seen to the west while the diverse mix of forests and open plains of east-central Arizona roll out all around, making the quad-burning hike well worth the effort. Mare Czinar, The Arizona Republic, "The views on this AZ hike will take your breath away, if you have any left. It's steep," 17 Sep. 2020 Reinhart has spent the last number of months resting and refamiliarizing herself with, well, herself. Hannah Dylan Pasternak, SELF, "Lili Reinhart’s Bedtime Routine: Pimple-Popping Videos, Prayer, and the Occasional Bath," 16 Sep. 2020 Brooklinen sheets fell into a different category than many of the other sets, one that can only be described as, well, buttery. Elizabeth Wallace, CNN Underscored, "The best linen sheets of 2020," 16 Sep. 2020 Troy’s city attorney sent Tait a letter back denying his request because … well, finding the documents would be too hard. al, "Alabama town’s new excuse for hiding public records: We don’t have to look for them," 16 Sep. 2020 Bieniek claims his lawn man offered to do the job for cheap, and, well, probably should've stuck to the grass portion of the yard. Dan Carson, Houston Chronicle, "'OH GOD D----T!': Would-be lumberjack chops tree down directly onto house," 15 Sep. 2020 Katz turned his attention to another concept that would have ordinarily taken, well, longer, but was up and running by mid-June. Beth Segal, cleveland, "Cleveland chef Doug Katz lays Fire Food and Drink to rest to focus on Zhug, Chutney B. and his Chimi ghost kitchen," 15 Sep. 2020 Exactly how much and how often, well, nobody knows that yet, says Topol, who directs the Scripps Research Translational Institute in La Jolla, California. Megan Molteni, Wired, "If You've Just Had Covid, Exercise Might Not Be Good for You," 15 Sep. 2020 If your boss is terrible – well – that just may be the case. NBC News, "Stephanie Ruhle: Nearly half of workers don't feel supported by their boss. Here's what to do when you need help.," 15 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Those roots stay in the ground year-round, stabilizing the soil to prevent erosion and soaking up the chemicals and fertilizers that are contaminating well water. Greg Stanley, Star Tribune, "University of Minnesota leads project to boost yield, uses of crop that could cut water pollution," 18 Sep. 2020 The tables are well over 6 feet apart and flanked by heaters and greenery for a sophisticated garden party vibe. Janelle Bitker, SFChronicle.com, "10 spacious outdoor restaurant patios in San Francisco, Bay Area," 17 Sep. 2020 However, this picture of straightforward, well-nigh angelic serenity sits uneasily beside moments when cracks and inconsistencies in that fabled serenity appeared. Allen C. Guelzo, National Review, "The Mystery of Robert E. Lee," 17 Sep. 2020 The cubby in the central console is small and well astern of the shifter. Csaba Csere, Car and Driver, "Tested: 2003 Nissan 350Z Returns to Its Roots," 16 Sep. 2020 With the publication of a major report today, the final verdict is out on how well world governments have stepped up to the challenge. Katya Zimmer, National Geographic, "The world missed a critical deadline to safeguard biodiversity, UN report says," 15 Sep. 2020 Visitors who are sick or do not feel well are asked to stay home. Washington Post, "With safety protocols working, Smithsonian to reopen four more museums on Friday," 14 Sep. 2020 Archaeologists found the coffins stacked in a well approximately 36 feet beneath the ground’s surface. Daisy Hernandez, Popular Mechanics, "These Egyptian Coffins Have Been Completely Sealed for 2,500 Years. Who's Inside?," 9 Sep. 2020 The teacher shortage is estimated to be well beyond the 100,000 mark, according to a report from the Economic Policy Institute. Chabeli Carrazana, USA TODAY, "The classroom and COVID: Teachers say they want to be ‘treated like real people’," 8 Sep. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'well.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of well


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for well


Middle English welle, from Old English; akin to Old English weallan to bubble, boil, Old High German wella wave, Lithuanian vilnis


Middle English, from Old English wellan to cause to well; akin to Old English weallan to bubble, boil


Middle English wel, going back to Old English, going back to Germanic *welō (whence Old Frisian wol, wel, wal "in a good manner," Old Saxon wola, wela, wala, Old High German wola, Old Norse vel, val), from an adjectival derivative of the base of *weljan- "to want" — more at will entry 1

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Time Traveler for well

Time Traveler

The first known use of well was before the 12th century

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Statistics for well

Last Updated

17 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Well.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/well. Accessed 22 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for well


How to pronounce well (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of well

 (Entry 1 of 5)

: a deep hole made in the ground through which water can be removed



English Language Learners Definition of well (Entry 2 of 5)

of a liquid : to rise to a surface and flow out



English Language Learners Definition of well (Entry 3 of 5)

: in a successful way
: in a skillful way
: in a good, proper, or positive way

English Language Learners Definition of well (Entry 4 of 5)

used to show that you are unsure about something you are saying
used to show that you accept something even though you are not happy about it
used when you are trying to persuade someone or to make someone feel less upset, worried, etc.

English Language Learners Definition of well (Entry 5 of 5)

: in good health
: in a good or satisfactory state
formal : wise, sensible, or reasonable


\ ˈwel How to pronounce well (audio) \
better\ ˈbe-​tər \; best\ ˈbest \

Kids Definition of well

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1 : in a skillful or expert manner He plays the guitar well.
2 : by as much as possible : completely We are well aware of the problem.
3 : in such a way as to be pleasing : as wanted Everything went well.
4 : without trouble We could well afford the cost.
5 : in a thorough manner Shake well before using.
6 : in a familiar manner I know them well.
7 : by quite a lot There was well over a million.
8 : so as to be right : in a satisfactory way Do your work well.
9 : in a complimentary or generous way They always speak well of you.
10 : with reason or courtesy I cannot well refuse.
as well
1 : in addition : also She has other hobbies as well.
2 : with the same result We might as well walk.

Kids Definition of well (Entry 2 of 5)

1 used to express surprise or doubt
2 used to begin a conversation or remark or to continue one that was interrupted



Kids Definition of well (Entry 3 of 5)

1 : a hole made in the earth to reach a natural deposit (as of water, oil, or gas)
2 : a source of supply He was a well of news.
3 : something like a deep hole Voices echoed in the well of the great hall.

Kids Definition of well (Entry 4 of 5)

1 : being in a satisfactory or good state All is well.
2 : free or recovered from ill health : healthy
3 : fortunate sense 1 It was well that we left.


welled; welling

Kids Definition of well (Entry 5 of 5)

: to rise to the surface and flow out Tears welled up in her eyes.
\ ˈwel How to pronounce well (audio) \

Medical Definition of well

1 : free or recovered from infirmity or disease : healthy a well person
2 : completely cured or healed the wound is nearly well

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