\ 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 well (audio) \; best\ ˈbest How to pronounce well (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 witness box has been moved to the center of the well of the courtroom — in front of the judge’s bench. Edmund H. Mahony, courant.com, "COVID continues to hinder courts: A lack of willing jurors delays Hartford’s first, post-pandemic criminal jury trial," 5 Nov. 2020 The amendment permits the presence or production of oil to be considered when assessing the fair market value of a well for ad valorem property tax purposes. Bloomberg.com, "Illinois Faces Cuts, Tax Increases After Ballot Measure Fails," 4 Nov. 2020 North Dakota already has been using Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funding for well plugging and cleanup. Mead Gruver, Star Tribune, "Wyoming to help petroleum industry with coronavirus funding," 12 Nov. 2020 Another well is planned to be built for the east side of the lake. Karen Pearlman, San Diego Union-Tribune, "Lakeside getting some long-needed upgrades," 2 Nov. 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 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Both Georgia runoffs are likely to be close as well, so there may not be a clear winner on election night. Tyler Olson, Fox News, "Georgia Senate runoff elections: What to know," 5 Jan. 2021 And, of course, many Giants fans and folks associated with the organization were furious as well. Chuck Schilken, Los Angeles Times, "Giants coach vows never to ‘disrespect the game’ a day after Eagles appear to do so," 5 Jan. 2021 This may well be the natural consequence of an organizational shift that emphasizes star reporters. Nicholas Quah, Vulture, "L’Affaire Caliphate," 5 Jan. 2021 Not only are the Browns out their head coach and play-caller but Pro Bowl guard Joel Bitonio and receiver KhaDarel Hodge as well. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "What can be learned from Mike Priefer’s 2016 head coaching performance with the Vikings?," 5 Jan. 2021 Even the industry admits that about 30% of its ventures fail, but the number may well be higher. WSJ, "The Next Energy Secretary’s Climate Record," 4 Jan. 2021 Nevertheless, Israel is well ahead of the curve as countries scramble to snatch up limited supplies of vaccines and inoculate their populations. Saphora Smith, NBC News, "Paralyzed by Covid-19, Israel bids to be first country to vaccinate its way to safety," 3 Jan. 2021 Connecting with an audience through the internet can be difficult as well, Kennedy said. Dallas News, "‘It’s a struggle’: How Dallas’ drag queens are making it work in the COVID-19 pandemic," 3 Jan. 2021 Alvin Kamara could very well be out for the next two weeks due to a positive coronavirus test. Amie Just | Staff Writer, NOLA.com, "S Marcus Williams, TE Josh Hill ruled out for Saints' regular season finale vs. Panthers," 1 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Interjection Leaning into the silliness of its concept, this mockumentary is the unsung (well, outside of its talented musical cast) hero of Disney+ originals. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 20 best TV shows on Disney+ to watch right now," 6 Jan. 2021 Still, the gathering felt surprisingly intimate, even worshipful, less like a conference and more like, well, church. Fred Bahnson, Harpers Magazine, "The Gate of Heaven Is Everywhere," 5 Jan. 2021 Utensil drawers are typically chaotic because, well, utensils come in every shape and size. Courtney Thompson, CNN Underscored, "35 products to organize every corner of your home," 5 Jan. 2021 That hurt to hear, but more than that, what was hurtful was that no one was coming to Earth anymore, now that it had been scaled back to what was, in all honesty, no more than a small and somewhat eclectic collection of, well, stuff. Seija Rankin, EW.com, "Read Charles Yu's first work of fiction since the National Book Award-winning Interior Chinatown," 5 Jan. 2021 With almost 18,000 reviews on Amazon, Stasher storage bags are loved by parents and, well, everyone for storing snacks, leftovers, sandwiches, and other odds and ends. Amanda Garrity, Good Housekeeping, "People Are Obsessed With Stasher Reusable Storage Bags," 4 Jan. 2021 At last, the days are getting longer in the Northern Hemisphere, a change that feels particularly welcome now, given, well, everything. Marina Koren, The Atlantic, "Winter Is Good," 4 Jan. 2021 Oh, well, these are just women who are doing it for the exposure. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "NFL Cheerleaders Fight for Better Pay and Workplace Dignity in A Woman's Work," 4 Jan. 2021 Oh, well, who said the life of a Social Security columnist was simple? Tom Margenau, Dallas News, "Phasing in changes: Full retirement age in 2021 and beyond to increase," 3 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective But not all is well in the world of Big Tech, and those big profits are part of the problem. CBS News, "A look back at the big wins and fails in technology in 2020," 1 Jan. 2021 This month, engineers are unfolding its mirror and unfurling its multilayered Sun shield one last time to check that all is well. Science News Staff, Science | AAAS, "The science stories likely to make headlines in 2021," 31 Dec. 2020 But if Friday is a sign of things to come, Griffin could be well on his way to a comeback season. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "Blake Griffin looked like his old self in Detroit Pistons' preseason loss to New York Knicks," 12 Dec. 2020 The answer, predictably, is not well, although this may have something to do with the movies West chooses. Washington Post, "A feminist critiques movies by and about White guys — but why?," 4 Dec. 2020 The district sent a message to parents on Wednesday reiterating that students who don't feel well should stay home. Mallika Kallingal And Natasha Chen, CNN, "Georgia teachers honk horns in protest of return to school," 7 Aug. 2020 The hot days of summer brought crisp, fragrant melons cooled in well water and refreshing pickles made of tiny cucumbers and tinier ears of corn. Jade Chang Kiese Makeba Laymon Carina Del Valle Schorske Dessa Irina Aleksander Sam Dolnick Mark Binelli Maggie Jones Rob Hoerburger Jamie Lauren Keiles Devin Gordon Jazmine Hughes Jenna Wortham Taffy Brodesser-akner Kaitlyn Greenidge Reginald Dwayne Betts Rowan Ricardo Phillips Michael Paterniti Wesley Morris Ismail Muhammad Anthony Giardina, New York Times, "Remembering some of the artists, innovators and thinkers we lost in the past year.," 24 Dec. 2020 Any chance of rain will be well to the east of Dallas today. Dallas News, "Wind Advisory with a cold front today," 23 Dec. 2020 The moist cakes keep well for several days and, like most booze-laden sweets, actually improve with age. Jeanmarie Brownson, chicagotribune.com, "Dessert classics updated: Hot toddy pudding and hazelnut cream pavlovas for Christmas," 18 Dec. 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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Learn More about well

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

10 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Well.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/well. Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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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