weal

1 of 2

noun (1)

1
: a sound, healthy, or prosperous state : well-being
2
obsolete : body politic, commonweal

weal

2 of 2

noun (2)

: welt

Did you know?

Weal has, since the dawn of English, referred to well-being. It’s most often used in the phrase “common weal” to refer to the general good—that is, to the happiness, health, and safety of everyone in a community or nation. A closed form of this phrase, commonweal, has since the 14th century carried the same meaning, but it once also referred to an organized political entity, such as a nation or state. This job (among others) is now done by the word’s close relation, commonwealth. At one time, weal and wealth were synonyms; both meant “riches” (as in “all their worldly weal”) and “well-being.” Both words stem from wela, the Old English word for “well-being,” and are closely related to the Old English word for “well.” An unrelated word weal is a synonym of welt in its painful application.

Examples of weal in a Sentence

Noun (1) the belief that somehow it is the nation's president who is responsible for the weal or woe of the people
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Of course, the value (and advisability) of such a potent check depends on the quality of the state actors involved, and in the United States, agency officials are highly trained, relatively diverse, and demonstrably devoted to the public weal. Jon D. Michaels, Foreign Affairs, 15 Aug. 2017 When economic distress reaches a certain point, the individual citizen no longer uses his political power to serve the public weal, but only to help himself. Foreign Affairs, 18 Dec. 2011 Some people develop pin-sized, raised bumps (weals) when sweating—this condition is called cholinergic urticaria. Jennifer Sabour, Health, 10 May 2024 Today’s Rwanda is based on the deceptively simple premise that common work makes common weal. Jonathan M. Hansen, TIME, 7 Apr. 2024 These and scores of other crimes against the public weal are carelessly grouped under this or that vague heading—libertarian prerogative, consumer sovereignty, anti-wokism, what have you—and enshrined as yet another instance of the way things have to be. Chris Lehmann, The New Republic, 30 Sep. 2021 Evince an old-fashioned interest in the public weal? Peggy Noonan, WSJ, 1 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'weal.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun (1)

Middle English wele, from Old English wela; akin to Old English wel well

Noun (2)

alteration of wale

First Known Use

Noun (1)

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

Noun (2)

circa 1798, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of weal was before the 12th century

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near weal

Cite this Entry

“Weal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/weal. Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

weal

1 of 2 noun
: a sound or prosperous state : well-being

weal

2 of 2 noun
: welt
Etymology

Noun

Old English wela "healthy state"

Noun

an altered form of wale "a streak or ridge made on the skin from a blow"

Medical Definition

weal

noun
: welt

More from Merriam-Webster on weal

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!