\ 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 better (audio) \; best\ ˈbest How to pronounce best (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 study of the 35 wells was taken from locations in Lafayette, Grant and Iowa counties. Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Wisconsin governor to county officials wanting to prosecute reporters: Don't take on the media," 13 Nov. 2019 To place one’s enjoyment of an unnecessary luxury item over the well-being of others is self-serving, and arguments for doing so stink as much as the dive bars these smokers frequent. Jack Butler, National Review, "Destroying Your Lungs to Own the Libs," 7 Nov. 2019 Hess spent roughly a week in Chicago to ensure the well-being of Williams and his family, according to a person who spoke to USA TODAY Sports on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter. Mike Jones, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Redskins might not deserve all blame for the Trent Williams saga," 1 Nov. 2019 So a sump pump is designed to pump the water out of there and funnel it away from the house to a storm drain or a well. Laura Kostelny, Country Living, "What's a Sump Pump, and How Does It Work?," 1 Nov. 2019 That was like someone calling to me at the bottom of a well. Jane Ratcliffe, Longreads, "‘I Was Being Used in Slivers and Slices’: On Feminism at Odds With Evangelical Faith," 24 Oct. 2019 Mills noted the ocean location of the wells in a May 1 letter to Steele. Daily Pilot, "Does oil company owe city of Seal Beach $9 million or more? City officials are drilling for answers," 20 Sep. 2019 This water is then separated and pumped down a deeper set of disposal wells into a porous, permeable layer of rock called the Arbuckle formation. Anna Kuchment, Scientific American, "Even if Injection of Fracking Wastewater Stops, Quakes Won’t," 9 Sep. 2019 Ingraffea’s own research has found that a small percentage of wells are responsible for the bulk of methane emissions either through leaks or deliberate venting. Stephen Leahy, National Geographic, "Fracking boom tied to methane spike in Earth’s atmosphere," 15 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Straneo believes the emerging freshwater, buoyant because of its low salinity, mixes with the warm water and forms a plume that wells up against the glacier's front, causing more melting and fracturing. Paul Voosen, Science Magazine, "A project to monitor every aspect of a fast-shrinking glacier could hold an answer to an urgent question: How fast will seas rise?," 10 Oct. 2019 The message welling up from the lowest of this movie’s depths is unforgiving and, for all the movie’s wit, quite tragic. BostonGlobe.com, "Family ties (and lies) in dark comic masterpiece ‘Parasite’ - The Boston Globe," 18 Oct. 2019 The Hawaiian-Emperor Seamount chain, a line of peaks on the ocean floor, was created when a tectonic plate moved over a spot where hot rock welled up from deep inside the Earth. Suzanne O'connell, The Conversation, "Curious Kids: How deep is the ocean?," 7 Oct. 2019 In fact, her serious tone verged on fury at times, while at other moments tears welled up in her eyes. Caitlin O'kane, CBS News, "Trump appears to mock Greta Thunberg in a tweet, and she returns the favor," 24 Sep. 2019 Cold water welling up from the depths of the ocean has helped to hold off the warm expanse. Fox News, "Scientists monitoring marine heat wave off West Coast which could disrupt ecosystem," 6 Sep. 2019 For now, cold waters welling up from the ocean depths have held the mass of warm water offshore, but that phenomenon usually eases in the fall. Los Angeles Times, "A giant mass of warm water off the Pacific Coast could rival ‘the blob’ of 2014-15," 5 Sep. 2019 The vitriol that welled up so visibly and disturbingly in that crowd Wednesday night symbolized the unusual place that Trump’s own rhetoric has gotten him into. Clarence Page, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Is Trump’s latest race-baiting a 2020 campaign strategy?," 19 July 2019 And Jack Harbaugh — the father of Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh — was sitting in the back with tears welling in his eyes. Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free Press, "Jim Harbaugh sends heartbreaking gift to funeral of Michigan boy who died on field," 13 Sep. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Scientists say the time to act is now, if the world wants to meet the goal set in Paris of keeping global warming well below 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit), ideally 1.5C by the end of the century. Washington Post, "Science warnings, US retreat add urgency to UN climate talks," 30 Nov. 2019 Trading is free, some index funds may as well be, and a diversified portfolio can be built by machines for a fraction of the cost of live professionals who deliver advice in an elegant leather binder. Tara Siegel Bernard, New York Times, "Yes, You Can Get Free Trading. But There’s Often a Catch.," 29 Nov. 2019 Once in a while, seeing what a craft can become when well-resourced can be clarifying: Is the platonic ideal necessarily the most expensive rendition of a dish? San Francisco Chronicle, "Soleil Ho | Hina Yakitori’s $110 tasting menu unleashes the power of poultry, and it's worth it," 29 Nov. 2019 The even more famous Norman Rockwell painting from 80 years later, Freedom from Want, might as well be the continuation of the Durrie scene, now indoors. Rich Lowry, National Review, "Our National Festival," 28 Nov. 2019 Such batteries—already the workhorse of applications from mobile phones to electric cars—are reliable, scalable and well understood. The Economist, "Electrical energy can be captured as liquid air," 28 Nov. 2019 At the time, @flawless hadn’t tweeted in well over a decade. Wired, "A Flawless Twitter Dunk 12 Years in the Making," 27 Nov. 2019 Edwards and Democratic Gov.-elect Andy Beshear ran well ahead of Hillary Clinton's 2016 support virtually everywhere in their states. David Wasserman, NBC News, "Democrats are making big gains in the suburbs. Here's why that may not be enough to beat Trump.," 27 Nov. 2019 What’s not as well understood is the incentive Son has to keep valuations rising. Peter Elstrom, Fortune, "‘Unicorn Porn:’ How SoftBank’s Investing Style Boosts Paper Profits—But Not Real-World Value," 26 Nov. 2019 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 Turner’s Twitter account also shared a video montage of celebrities sending their well wishes to the singer — including Ringo Starr, Pete Townshend and the Broadway cast of Tina: The Tina Turner Musical. Helen Murphy, PEOPLE.com, "Tina Turner Is 'Happy to Be an 80-Year-Old Woman' as She Celebrates Milestone Birthday," 26 Nov. 2019 On Thursday, Sanders released a seven-minute video statement to supporters thanking them for their well wishes and restating his commitment to the campaign. Los Angeles Times, "Elizabeth Warren, 70, flaunts her fitness as Democratic candidates’ health becomes a debate issue," 14 Oct. 2019 Thank you for all your well wishes and the letters, notes, emails, voicemails and texts. Chris Fedor, cleveland, "Cleveland Cavaliers visit owner Dan Gilbert at his home on Saturday, sources say," 12 Oct. 2019 Fans have already started commenting on Drew's Instagram post teasing their Carpool Karaoke segment, sending their well wishes to the *potential* couple, and crossing their fingers that the early reports are true. Candace Braun Davison, House Beautiful, "Property Brothers Star Jonathan Scott Is Reportedly Dating Zooey Deschanel," 14 Sep. 2019 Not buying new items in the coming month has benefits for your bank account and your well-being. Annaliese Griffin, Quartz, "To insulate yourself from the trade war, stop buying new stuff," 1 Sep. 2019 Health insurance puts a price on your well-being—and worse, slavery puts a price on a human being. Matt Simon, WIRED, "Who's Burning the Amazon? Rampant Capitalism," 28 Aug. 2019 The tradition of football is also alive and well for the Aylwards; Bob continues to offer advice in his retirement, and Johnny is now an offensive quality control coach with the Houston Texans. BostonGlobe.com, "These high school coaches share a deep-rooted football connection - The Boston Globe," 8 Nov. 2019 Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard said the last one, named Lucy is alive and well but has entered retirement. USA TODAY, "Massive pumpkin, runaway emu, 38-year-old penguin dies: News from around our 50 states," 21 Oct. 2019

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

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Well.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/well. Accessed 11 December 2019.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on well

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for well

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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).


heavy with or as if with moisture

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