\ 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
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 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 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)

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The same factors that make a place like Keller Williams a Top Workplace eight years in a row, also bode well for retention and recruitment. Michael Schroeder, The Indianapolis Star, 18 May 2022 Among Republicans, Mehmet Oz, the celebrity doctor running with the backing of ex-President Donald Trump, issued a clear get-well message with no wiggle room or caveat. Philip Elliott, Time, 16 May 2022 Staying off social media for a week meant, for some study participants, gaining about nine hours of free time, which improved their well-being, British researchers report. Steven Reinberg, Chicago Tribune, 14 May 2022 Bench coach DeMarlo Hale and first base coach Sandy Alomar have filled in well for Francona over the last two seasons due to his health problems. Paul Hoynes, cleveland, 12 May 2022 Some of the incoming mail, like the get-well cards sent to him after his 1966 motorcycle accident, show just how large Dylan loomed in the sixties and seventies. Rob Levine, Billboard, 9 May 2022 Chinedum Ojinnaka, an assistant professor at ASU’s College of Health Solutions, knows this well. AZCentral.com, 5 May 2022 The parents also thanked supporters for their well-wishes. Audrey Conklin, Fox News, 3 May 2022 The violence that was once limited to criminals and cops now spread to a new class of victims — middle-class and well-to-do members of Tijuana society who had no connection to organized crime. San Diego Union-Tribune, 3 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The frothy sensation of panic began to well up in his gut, threatening to take him out of the moment and squander any hope of escape. Scott Carney, Outside Online, 22 Apr. 2020 However, if the surface ice cap were to thin, the reduction in pressure could allow this deep water to well up. Katie Hunt, CNN, 5 May 2022 The tortured words and phrases seem to well up from someplace deep within himself, as if they were being articulated for the first time. Los Angeles Times, 23 Dec. 2021 The price tag of the project has ballooned to well over $130 million, which includes the cost of exhumations and a large new apartment complex that will soon break ground on the land that used to be the graveyard. New York Times, 23 Dec. 2021 So’s stories allow the past to well up into the present without force or preciousness. Washington Post, 2 Aug. 2021 The split-level set kept the actors in exquisite balance; the sense of tragic foreboding seemed to well up from inside the characters themselves. Los Angeles Times, 24 Nov. 2021 The yield of strategic nukes can range from 100 kilotons to well into the megaton range, with the U.S. military’s largest weapon having a yield of 1.3 megatons (the equivalent of 1,200,000 tons of TNT). Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 5 Nov. 2021 But then, there are plenty of professional fund managers who might do comparatively well one year in the annual stats of who beats market performance, only to slide off the monetary precipice the next. Erik Sherman, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Booker was all in black as well, from his slacks to his zippered bomber jacket. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 22 May 2022 For residents who need help, MSP said a shelter is located at E-Free Church in Gaylord located at 1649 E. M-32, and the Red Cross will be there as well. Lily Altavena, Detroit Free Press, 21 May 2022 As well, the X-man has not been averse to forays into folk territory, both with X’s acoustic alter ego, the Knitters, and in some of his solo work. Stuart Munro, BostonGlobe.com, 20 May 2022 Should that be the case, the Blazers might not have a choice but to go with the best player available, regardless of position, and that player could very well be a guard or small forward such as Mathurin or Duke’s AJ Griffin. oregonlive, 20 May 2022 The healthcare industry is constantly evolving, which naturally means the role of HR is as well. Jacob Kupietzky, Forbes, 20 May 2022 This weekend is busy as well from graduations at Morgan State and Coppin State universities, Breeden said. Lorraine Mirabella, Baltimore Sun, 20 May 2022 This person could very well be a true friend, but not necessarily your best friend. Tribune News Service, al, 20 May 2022 Those two things are pretty good lessons, not just for actors, but for anybody, to really be cognizant of other people’s time and be aware of your own as well. Alan Sepinwall, Rolling Stone, 20 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Interjection If that sounds like a major operation with lots of employees providing tools for the multi-billion-dollar industry that is baseball, well, that’s not the case. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, 22 May 2022 Which brings us back to potential EV buyers, and how these massive investments might affect the new cars you—and, well, most of us—will be shopping for in the coming years. Sebastian Blanco, Car and Driver, 22 May 2022 The company’s claims about its products have generated controversy but the company’s assets well exceed its debts, protecting bondholders, said Wasserstein Chief Investment Officer Rajay Bagaria. Matt Wirz, WSJ, 21 May 2022 As the world’s attention on climate change intensifies, anti-take-off efforts are, well, taking off. Mark Ellwood, Robb Report, 21 May 2022 To save her life, Bruce gives her a blood transfusion and, well…the rest is history. Milan Polk, Men's Health, 20 May 2022 For those interested in what exactly the doctor did to Doja’s tonsils, well… the squeamish may want to skip down a couple of paragraphs. Jon Blistein, Rolling Stone, 20 May 2022 Imagine Toy Story, but without, well, all the things that give it Disney's stamp of approval. Lauren Puckett-pope, Good Housekeeping, 19 May 2022 With all-inclusives, these expenses tend to be – well – included. Sally French, USA TODAY, 19 May 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Released this November, this new Robot Damashii figure will cost 7,700 yen (around $60) and include a beam rifle, shield, effects parts, additional hands and antennae as well parts for the Tamashii Stage stand (sold separately). Ollie Barder, Forbes, 23 May 2022 Naseck wants to know why CalGEM doesn’t push for setbacks to apply to existing well sites, like the one in Bakersfield. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 22 May 2022 Punk Jones, the sheriff for 28 years, is credited with discovering the freshwater well field that feeds Mentone. Susan Carroll, NBC News, 21 May 2022 Researchers also studied the geology of the area and how the age and types of wells and the proximity of septic systems and farms impacted the well water serving families throughout the region. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 20 May 2022 But in this iteration of the Vuillards of Roubaix, the clan is neither sprawling nor well-to-do, placing them perhaps more firmly on the ground, even though one of them will, in a burst of hallucinatory zeal or plain magic, defy gravity. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 May 2022 Bet on multiple players across the field who consistently do well year over year. Chloe Berger, Fortune, 19 May 2022 The release of the well data has been in dispute after ConocoPhillips asked the Alaska Department of Natural Resources to extend the state’s confidentiality period. Alex Demarban, Anchorage Daily News, 18 May 2022 Tyson Kozak, after missing Game 5, played in Game 6, but wasn’t even well enough to take any faceoffs, a big part of his game. Dylan Bumbarger, oregonlive, 17 May 2022 See More

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, wille "spring of water, pool formed by a spring, pit sunk into the earth to reach water," going back to Old English wælle (Anglian), wiell, wielle (West Saxon, later wille, wylle), going back to a Germanic base *waln(j)- (also *walj-?) with varying stem formations (whence also Old Frisian walla "spring, source," Middle Dutch wal, walle "a seething, boiling heat, spring or river of seething water") and with e-grade ablaut Old High German wella "wave, tide," Old Icelandic vella "boiling, bubbling mass," all nominal derivatives from the base of Germanic *walla- "to well up, seethe, bubble" — more at well entry 2

Note: Comparable nominal formations from Indo-European *u̯el(H)- "seethe, bubble" with zero-grade ablaut are Old Church Slavic vlĭna "wave," Russian volná (< *u̯l̥H-neh2), Lithuanian vilnìs "wave" (< *u̯l̥H-ni-), Sanskrit ūrmí- "wave" (< *u̯l̥H-mi-).


Middle English wellen "to rise to the surface, bubble up, boil, seethe," probably in part verbal derivative of welle "spring of water, well entry 1," in part adaptation of the transitive verb wellen "to boil, curdle, melt (metal), refine," going back to Old English wellan, wyllan (< *wiellan) "to cause to boil," probably going back to Germanic *wall(j)an- (whence also Middle Dutch & Middle High German wellen "to make boil," Old Icelandic vella), causative from *wallan- "to well up, seethe, bubble," Class VII strong verb (whence Old English weallan "to boil, bubble up," Old Frisian walla, Old Saxon wallan "to blaze, boil up, well up," Old High German, "to boil up, well up"), a Germanic verbal base of uncertain origin, seen also with a zero-grade present without gemination in Gothic wulan "to seethe, spread (of an ulcer)"

Note: Both the Middle English Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary, third edition (OED), treat the two Middle English verbs wellen as simply the same verb; compare, however, J. de Vries (Nederlands Etymologisch Woordenboek), who treats Dutch wellen "to bubble up" (opborrelen) and wellen "to make boil, hammer white-hot metal together" (doen koken, gloeiende metalen aaneenhameren) in separate articles. The OED asserts that there is a range of dialect attestation of the verb (wællan, wellan, willan, wyllan), apparently on the basis of the few forms given in the citations (the imperatives wel, wyl and wæl in recipes): "In Old English the verb shows the expected reflex of the i-mutation of early Old English æ (West Germanic a) before ll, depending on dialect." But if this statement is based on a reconstruction of the immediate pre-Old English form and inflection of the verb, or its West Germanic predecessor, no such reconstruction is given. The etymology itself merely lists a group of supposed Germanic cognates, summarized by the statement "a causative formation < the same Germanic base as wall v.1 [i.e., Old English weallan]." — In addition to *wallan-, Germanic has an apparent e-grade strong verb *wellan-, seen in Old Saxon and Old High German biwellan "to stain, besmirch," Old Icelandic vella "to well over, boil," and probably Old English wollentēar "with streaming tears." Along with a series of nominal formations outside Germanic based on a zero-grade *u̯l̥H- (see note at well entry 1), the Germanic verbs would lead to an Indo-European base *u̯el(H)- "seethe, bubble." Some have seen this etymon as identical with a homonymous base meaning "to roll" (see welter entry 1), the view of H. Rix, et al., (Lexikon der indogermanischen Verben, 2. Auflage, Wiesbaden, 2001). E. Seebold, on the other hand (Vergleichendes und etymologisches Wörterbuch der germanischen starken Verben, Mouton, 1970, p. 552) thinks the connection in sense is not so easily explained ("Wie dies Bedeutungsvielfalt zu erklären ist, bleibt unklar"; likewise Kluge-Seebold, 22. Auflage, s.v. wallen). Seebold points to the proximity of form and identical meaning of Lithuanian vérda, vìrti "to boil, seethe," Old Church Slavic vĭrěti.


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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Last Updated

21 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Well.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/well. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for well


\ 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

More from Merriam-Webster on well

Nglish: Translation of well for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of well for Arabic Speakers


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