\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

On May 21st officials from the Health Department, the Forestry Department, the Regional Diagnostic Laboratory and the Animal Husbandry Department caught a bat for testing and sealed the well with nets. The Economist, "Lina Puthussery died of the Nipah virus on May 21st," 31 May 2018 Despite the removal of the pentane, danger remains if the lava reaches the wells. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "In Hawaii, lava continues its creep onto grounds of geothermal power plant," 27 May 2018 That approach may be neglecting the well-being of doctors themselves, however, says study author Tait Shanafelt at Stanford University—with consequences for the rest of us. Lucas Laursen, Fortune, "Burned-Out Doctors Make Twice as Many Errors. The Business World Could Offer a Solution," 10 July 2018 Another 12 parents were found to be in federal and state custody on criminal charges, making a reunification impossible since the government can't transfer minors to state and local prisons to protect the well-being of the child. Alan Gomez, USA TODAY, "Trump administration will miss first deadline to reunify families," 9 July 2018 Those who do so spend more on the well-being of their children. The Economist, "Culture and the labour market keep India’s women at home," 5 July 2018 Later this week, the head of Kansas' child welfare agency will meet with a Topeka nonprofit to check on the well-being of nearly four dozen migrant children staying there. Laura Bauer, kansascity, "Topeka nonprofit has been caring for nine migrant children separated from parents," 25 June 2018 West has grown children serving in the military and takes pride in contributing to the well-being of veterans. Patricia Kime, CNN, "Heroes and angels: Veterans find care in foster homes," 5 June 2018 West has grown children serving in the military and takes pride in contributing to the well-being of veterans. Kaiser Health News, OregonLive.com, "VA turns to foster care for veterans instead of nursing homes," 28 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 The work initiative polls well with voters, especially those in the GOP political base. Andrew Taylor, chicagotribune.com, "Conservative revolt over immigration sinks House farm bill," 18 May 2018 The work initiative polls well with voters, especially those in the GOP political base. Andrew Taylor, BostonGlobe.com, "Conservative revolt over immigration sinks House farm bill," 18 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

Jonathan is doing very well at his current program, and has made great gains in following directions and communicating his thoughts and feelings. BostonGlobe.com, "Jonathan and Violette both love playing outside," 14 July 2018 The group has been working on it for nearly two years, and Carr is confident the time will prove well spent. Gary Graff, Billboard, "BAHARI Shares 'Chasers' About 'That Craving to Meet the Right Someone': Premiere," 13 July 2018 Daniels then allegedly did the same with a male detective as well, the report states. Marilyn Icsman, Cincinnati.com, "Stormy Daniels: Her crazy 48 hours in Ohio," 13 July 2018 Here are a few other college football teams’ hype videos celebrating the 50-day mark that are also well done. Michelle R. Martinelli, For The Win, "College football season is 50 days away, and Lane Kiffin and FAU are already winning," 13 July 2018 Prepa has spent hundreds of millions of dollars repairing transmission and distribution lines, unnerving creditors who worried the money wasn’t being well spent. Andrew Scurria, WSJ, "Puerto Rico Utility Directors Resign, Alleging Political Interference," 12 July 2018 Years the Rapid Evaluation Team and the Foundry may well spend spitting out untold numbers of failures and biting into a potential success or two. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Inside X, the Moonshot Factory Racing to Build the Next Google," 11 July 2018 In the meantime, with both major political parties in the U.K. in terminal disarray, its government on the verge of collapse, and its relationship with Europe tainted, that Russian money is looking ever more well-spent. Jonah Shepp, Daily Intelligencer, "The Brexit Crisis Finally Engulfs the Party That Started It," 11 July 2018 The rise in cap also raises the luxury tax line, which should help teams spend a little bit more as well. Rohan Nadkarni, SI.com, "NBA Free Agency Needs to Return to Normal in 2019," 10 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

Their well-mannered outcry shows how attitudes towards Singapore’s past are shifting. The Economist, "Singapore’s Brutalist past could soon be gone," 31 May 2018 Sleeper team: Dearborn Divine Child came into the postseason unranked but has handled its opponents well, including an extra-inning win over No. Tom Lang, Detroit Free Press, "High school softball state championship predictions," 13 June 2018 A day after Boughton collapsed at a Republican meet-and-greet in Avon, Walker sent him a get-well flower arrangement for $72.26. Russell Blair, courant.com, "Finance Reports Show Wealthy Businessmen Are Pouring Their Cash Into Outsider Gubernatorial Bids," 12 Apr. 2018 Contemporary furniture, particularly that which echoes the mid-century styles made popular on Mad Men, lends itself well to the kind of curated minimalism that garners the most likes on social media. Sean Santiago, ELLE Decor, "I May Be A Millennial, But I Don't Decorate Like One," 25 Jan. 2016 The majority of the high court’s decisions are unanimous or near-unanimous, a sign of how well justices can serve as a model of collective self-government. The Christian Science Monitor, "A big question for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee," 10 July 2018 Adams defeated a state legislator in her Democratic primary and will likely be looked upon as a yardstick to see how well African-American women can do in the Deep South. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Gov. Attica Scott? Louisville Democrat 'seriously considering' 2019 run," 5 July 2018 The extent to which these technologies will displace workers (and how quickly) will depend on how well government and corporations in California can align around industry-specific transition plans. Amy Chance, sacbee, "'Not all machines are evil,' and other thoughts on California's changing economy," 2 July 2018 Those facts have prompted a new line of firearms injury research focusing not just on whether and how well state gun laws work to reduce gun injuries, but how a neighboring state can support or undermine a state's efforts to curb gun violence. Melissa Healy, latimes.com, "The stronger a state's gun laws, the lower its rate of gun-related homicides and suicides," 5 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

6 Oct 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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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).


evasion of direct action or statement

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