\ˈwel \

Definition of well 

(Entry 1 of 5)

1a : an issue of water from the earth : a pool fed by a spring

b : source, origin

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 \; best\ˈbest \

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 qualifier there 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 do you 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 remark they are, well, not quite what you'd expect

2 used to express surprise or expostulation well, what have we here?



Definition of well (Entry 5 of 5)

1a : prosperous, well-off

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


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


“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.


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

Conditions in a home impacting the daily emotional well-being of the person(s) seeking relief. Jennifer Lance, Glamour, "Your Divorce Glossary: A-to-Z Terms You Need to Know," 26 Nov. 2018 Beyond air quality, another primary concern to take into consideration during such strained times, and one worth addressing immediately, is the state of your emotional well-being. Calin Van Paris, Vogue, "For Those Grappling With California Wildfires, Dangerous Air Quality Is a New Risk," 16 Nov. 2018 Just like with Jack, Randall has designated himself a fixer, someone who is there to make everyone else’s lives easier at the expense of his own well-being. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is Us Season 3 Episode 3: Dreams and Fears Go Hand-In-Hand for the Pearsons," 10 Oct. 2018 Their lack of neighborliness and obliviousness to their children’s impact on the well-being of others cut our trip short and ruined an otherwise good vacation. Seattle Times Readers, The Seattle Times, "Rant & Rave: Noisy kids ruined camping trip," 24 Sep. 2018 The company has also said there is no evidence that the oil on the surface is leaking from any of its wells. Ted Mann, WSJ, "Oil Spill at Center of Legal Battle Worse Than Earlier Estimated, Study Finds," 14 Sep. 2018 My friend Raeanna, who lives on the Navajo Nation reservation in Arizona , has seen her community’s water wells decrease in volume due to coal mining. Iris Fen Gillingham, Teen Vogue, "Climate Change Puts the Future at Risk, So I'm Taking Action," 19 July 2018 She and her neighbors all get water from their own wells, and the pumps need electricity. David R. Baker, SFChronicle.com, "For PG&E, cutting power could prevent fires and save lives — and costs," 23 June 2018 That's become an expensive necessity now that his wells have started drawing salt water as the Mediterranean leaches into the barren aquifers below. NBC News, "Cyprus turns off taps to farmers as fresh water levels drop," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The idea is to work the lyrics out of you like an emotion welling up in the heart, like a situation that needs fixing, like a journey with oppression on the back end and hope on the front end. Tyrone Beason / Columnist, The Seattle Times, "Total Experience Gospel Choir’s last days: Pat Wright built legacy with gusto of a freedom fighter," 1 Oct. 2018 Researchers believe the cyclones that the spacecraft spotted are the result of ammonia welling up from deep within the planet, creating turbulent weather even far below the upper atmosphere. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "The Juno Spacecraft Reveals New Mysteries at Jupiter," 25 May 2017 As millions of people watched on live TV, the 33-year-old royal welled up just as the former Suits actress, 36, joined him at the altar, and he was seen wiping away the touching tears. Nick Maslow, PEOPLE.com, "Prince Harry Bit His Lip at His Wedding to Meghan Markle — and the Internet Is Hilariously 'Mad'," 21 May 2018 Every now and then, a moment will arise where the enormity of it all sits on my shoulders and then wells up inside. Christopher Wallenberg, BostonGlobe.com, "On Broadway, feeling love for Donna Summer," 19 Apr. 2018 As our line of sight shifted to the point where the small island came between us and the mirage, regret began to well up at the thought of losing that magnificent show. Longreads, "The Quest for the Collision Zone: An Arctic Expedition," 12 Mar. 2018 The resolve of 2014 welled up in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Crimea and southern Ukraine. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Winning on NATO," 13 June 2018 Daly, long-retired, was among those who got a heads-up call, and 40 years of emotions welled up. Anchorage Daily News, "With taunts and guile, the Golden State Killer left a trail of horror," 28 Apr. 2018 The 33-year-old royal welled up just as Meghan joined him at the altar at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle. Dave Quinn, PEOPLE.com, "Prince Harry Wipes Away Tears at Royal Wedding After Joining Meghan Markle at Altar," 19 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Like it or not, the trucks and SUVs have won, and that bodes well for one of the newest entrants into the market, a startup called Rivian. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Rivian debuts new US-made electric truck and SUV with 400-mile range," 28 Nov. 2018 Victoria James: For Friendsgiving, the perfect wine that pairs well with everything is rosé. Kristin Tice Studeman, Vogue, "The Best Wine for Every Thanksgiving Scenario," 19 Nov. 2018 The Thanksgiving plate is a cornucopia of flavors and finding one wine that pairs well with the turkey, gravy, sweet potato, cranberry sauce, and whatever other special dish mom brings to the table is nearly impossible. Laura Giannatempo, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Best Wine to Pair With Turkey, According to Wine Experts," 15 Nov. 2018 The number of devices that Alexa plays well with is growing almost weekly, and these are four of the best Alexa-compatible gadgets CNET has found so far. Cnet.com, The Seattle Times, "Hey, Alexa, which gadgets work the best with you?," 7 Nov. 2018 The ensembles Charlotte and her fellow bridesmaids wore were subtly personalized as well. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Just Revealed the Sweetest Detail About Prince George's Royal Wedding Outfit," 26 Oct. 2018 The kind move and educational moment for Kevin earned him some major Twitter points back: Looks like things are going well for Kevin and Zoe. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Why 'This Is Us' Viewers Were Super Upset With Kevin After This Week's Episode," 24 Oct. 2018 Eastern played particularly well late last season, and his focus has turned to building on his performance to benefit the Boilermakers. Michael Osipoff, Post-Tribune, "Evanston grad Nojel Eastern 'living in the moment' at Purdue after NBA draft process," 14 July 2018 With Reese playing well, Team Takeover finished fourth at the Nike Nationals this week in Chicago. Katherine Dunn, baltimoresun.com, "After missing cut for U.S. team, St. Frances star Angel Reese plans more hoops, closer look at big offers," 14 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Interjection

Having a good, well-rounded family emergency plan and some basic emergency supplies in place can put your mind at ease and go a long way to making the aftermath of an unexpected event more bearable. Rebecca Mcbane, South Florida Parenting, "Don't Wait for the Storm: The most important step in a Family Emergency Plan is to make one," 30 Aug. 2017 If such practices made going about the activities of daily life terrifying for Arpaio’s Latino constituents (especially the undocumented ones), well, that was the point. Eric Levitz, Daily Intelligencer, "‘Sheriff Joe’ and Everyday American Authoritarianism," 30 Aug. 2017 Well, the knock-it-off suggestion is a good place to start. Jeffrey Kluger, Time, "7 Signs You're Dealing With a Passive-Aggressive Person," 30 Aug. 2017 If the 10 pilot subjects tolerate the treatment well and no safety issues arise— seizures are the primary concern—Steele’s group will launch a double-blind phase II trial with 60 cocaine users. Meredith Wadman, Science | AAAS, "Brain-altering magnetic pulses could zap cocaine addiction," 29 Aug. 2017 Well, the good people there need to do more to stop the evil their state pushes. Ramsey Touchberry, USA TODAY College, "Instructor calls Harvey 'karma' for Texas Republicans. University fires him.," 29 Aug. 2017 Well, convicting someone of contempt is the one and only way the judicial branch can put muscle behind its decisions. Nardine Saad, latimes.com, "Trevor Noah says Trump's pardon of Sheriff Arpaio renders courts powerless," 29 Aug. 2017 September's about to be lit (well, as lit as classic Disney films can get). Lindsey Lanquist, SELF, "Everything Coming to Netflix in September 2017," 23 Aug. 2017 Synthetic strings, for example, may not have been this capable of producing actual emotion, since, well, the early-’80s that Granduciel so often references. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Classic-Rock Ecstasy of The War on Drugs," 23 Aug. 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Over the course of their 16-day tour of the Oceania region, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have met thousands of fans, all eager to give their well-wishes to the royal couple and to congratulate them on their baby news. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Harry Comforts Six-Year-Old Boy in New Zealand Who Lost His Mother," 30 Oct. 2018 Both agencies worked together to create a framework to gauge how well schools are doing — think the Every Student Succeeds Act, but on a state level. Dahlia Bazzaz, The Seattle Times, "Parents and taxpayers, you have 6 days to tell state officials what you want out of Washington’s public schools," 24 July 2018 Elections are a way to engage with those institutions and participate in key aspects of your well-being. Jennifer Victor, Vox, "What good are elections, anyway?," 30 Oct. 2018 The midterms could have an even bigger impact on your well-being. Kaitlin Menza, Redbook, "Everything You Need to Know Before Voting in the Midterm Elections," 10 Oct. 2018 The thinner part of the neck, where the frets are spaced further apart, lends itself well to big chord extensions and is ideal for rhythm work where your thumb slides around. Henry Robertson, Popular Mechanics, "The New Fender Strat Still Reigns Supreme," 27 Apr. 2017 The last time Melania Trump was seen alive and well was in the early-morning hours of May 10, when her husband, President ChiChi von FuckThisGuy, welcomed home three American hostages from North Korea. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Has Melania Trump Left the White House?," 30 May 2018 Parton is alive and well and ruling the entertainment universe from her Pigeon Forged iron throne. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "BUKU Fest 2019 is scheduled for March 22-23," 1 May 2018 Rose, the piece doesn’t mention, is alive and well and rich. Laura Mcgann, Vox, "Dowd should have forfeited her right to talk about sexual harassment years ago.," 25 Mar. 2018

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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Learn More about well

Statistics for well

Last Updated

1 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for well

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

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More Definitions for well



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

: wise, sensible, or reasonable


\ˈwel \
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 \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on well

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with well

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for well

Spanish Central: Translation of well

Nglish: Translation of well for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of well for Arabic Speakers

Comments on well

What made you want to look up well? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


living or existing for a long time

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