well

noun
\ 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

well

verb
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

well

adverb
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 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?

well

adjective

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

Adjective

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

Adverb

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

Adjective

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 deepest new well is 138 feet, but most are about 50-100 feet deep. Jesse Leavenworth, Courant Community, "Work At Manchester Dump Meant To Curb Stink," 11 May 2018 Source: WalletHub One category in which California didn't score well was variety of arts, entertainment and recreation establishments. Noel Harris, sacbee, "You don't have to leave California to have fun – and there's data to back that up | The Sacramento Bee," 6 May 2018 Photo: Erika Balza The Balzas drilled a new well with state help. Jesse Newman And Patrick Mcgroarty, WSJ, "Farms, More Productive Than Ever, Are Poisoning Drinking Water in Rural America," 18 Jan. 2019 The classic example is a baby falling down a well or a disaster or something like that. Eric Johnson, Recode, "The media is responsible for President Trump and it still hasn’t learned from 2016, says Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi," 18 Oct. 2018 The infant’s body was found by a relative in a well behind his home on Sunday, a day after he was taken, according to the BBC. Fox News, "'Baby snatcher' monkey hunted after infant found dead in well," 2 Oct. 2018 Shi Huang's secret remained just that until 1974, when three local farmers were digging a well and came across stone body parts. Hanya Yanagihara, Condé Nast Traveler, "50 Things to Do in Asia Before You Die," 24 Sep. 2018 There will be a deep well of popular anger to exploit for a politician who can frame themself as the defender of the will of the people. The Economist, "Donald Trump lays into Britain’s Brexit plan," 13 July 2018 Work will start soon on an $8 million project to drill a new well to increase the water supply for the town of Plymouth. Johanna Seltz, BostonGlobe.com, "Plymouth to increase water supply with new well," 12 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Another Springs/Rogers/Sturken track, the song is a uptempo lament on the insatiable power of attraction in which the vocalist alternates between seductively welling her voice into one verse and then tersely recoiling into the next. Martin Johnson, WSJ, "‘Indigo’ by Kandace Springs Review: Adding Emotion Through Precision," 6 Sep. 2018 Tucker’s tail wagged furiously, and Cawley’s eyes welled up. Liz Kowalczyk, BostonGlobe.com, "In ICUs, a furry friend to comfort patients," 15 Mar. 2018 McCarthy said, before stopping mid-sentence and looking away for more than 30 seconds as tears welled up in his eyes. Bill Ruthhart, chicagotribune.com, "McCarthy talks Emanuel challenge with Tribune: I want to save ‘a great American city’," 21 Mar. 2018 Immediately, the miniseries gets this story underway as tiny rabbit Fiver (Nicholas Hoult) has a prophetic vision of rabbits being chopped in half by bulldozers and fields welling with blood, bringing to mind the elevator in The Shining. Aja Romano, Vox, "Netflix’s new Watership Down proves the beloved children’s classic was a horror story all along," 30 Dec. 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

That model will return, and there will be an SQ8 TDI as well. Jens Meiners, Car and Driver, "Volvo to Start Using Electrically Driven Superchargers," 17 May 2019 While the Baltimore asset manager would do well to listen to some of his advice, turning around its fortunes once again will take even bolder action this time around. Aaron Back, WSJ, "Legg Mason Needs Activist Help, Again," 16 May 2019 While it hasn't been tested on humans yet, the hydrogel adhesive has done phenomenally well in testing on pig hearts, which share many similarities with human hearts, like two atriums and two ventricles. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "New Bio Glue Stops Post-Traumatic Bleeding in Its Tracks," 14 May 2019 Big Little Lies stars Nicole Kidman, Reese Witherspoon, Shailene Woodley, Laura Dern, and Zoe Kravitz as a group of well-to-do California moms who have dark and twisty secrets. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "You Can Stream 'Big Little Lies' Free on YouTube This Weekend, Even If You Don't Have HBO," 12 May 2019 While socio-economic status is definitely a big part of what makes a place a food desert to begin with, there are other factors that go into it as well. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "Everything You Need To Know About Food Deserts," 29 Apr. 2019 Even without the help of Kylie Jenner, Jordyn is still doing very well for herself thanks to her many partnerships and jobs, and her net worth reflects that. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Jordyn Woods' Net Worth is Still Insane Even Without Kylie Jenner's Support," 3 Apr. 2019 The organization was curious about whether cash transfers — literally giving people who just suffered through a disaster cash — worked well for disaster relief. Kelsey Piper, Vox, "Why disaster relief is so hard," 25 Mar. 2019 Food deserts have a particularly negative affect on children as well, who need to have a healthy diet in the first few years of their life in order to develop properly. Jessica Booth, Redbook, "Everything You Need To Know About Food Deserts," 29 Apr. 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

Another study, this one published in 1999 in Dermatology, compared how well participants could tolerate retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid over 44 weeks. Sarah Jacoby, SELF, "Can People With Sensitive Skin Be in the Retinol Club, Too?," 30 Apr. 2019 According to numbers compiled by ESPN.com, Milwaukee was 10th in per-game attendance last year, too, and 16th in 2016 and 13th in 2015 – both years when the team was well out of contention. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Attendance is way down at Major League Baseball games – but not in Milwaukee," 18 June 2018 Of course that was well before Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. James Freeman, WSJ, "Tom and Jerry and Khamenei," 24 May 2018 If playwrights and moviemakers can provide answers, then thank goodness, because the world knows all too well that reality, unlike fiction, can bite. Bethany Mclean, Town & Country, "This New Play The Lehman Trilogy Turns the Financial Crisis Into High Art," 29 Mar. 2019 While the series was well-received and quickly earned a second-season renewal, the production fell apart shortly thereafter. Andrew Liptak, The Verge, "American Gods season 2 finally has a release date," 5 Dec. 2018 There was obvious incentive for both player and team to get a deal done here after how well things went for Redick and the Sixers last season. Jeremy Woo, SI.com, "Grades: Sharpshooter J.J. Redick Returns to the Rising Sixers," 2 July 2018 Total sticker price for our well-equipped and luxurious four-wheel-drive QX80 was $84,660, including freight. star-telegram, "Infiniti QX80 full-size luxury SUV brings elegance, technology to the family hauler," 30 June 2018 Before deleting his Instagram page, Pete posted a note that shocked fans and had others worrying about his well being. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Ariana Grande Tried to Check In With Pete Davidson After He Posts Alarming Note on Instagram," 17 Dec. 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

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

12th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1

Adverb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Interjection

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for well

Noun

Middle English welle, from Old English; akin to Old English weallan to bubble, boil, Old High German wella wave, Lithuanian vilnis

Verb

Middle English, from Old English wellan to cause to well; akin to Old English weallan to bubble, boil

Adverb

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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Statistics for well

Last Updated

19 May 2019

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

well

noun

English Language Learners Definition of well

 (Entry 1 of 5)

: a deep hole made in the ground through which water can be removed

well

verb

English Language Learners Definition of well (Entry 2 of 5)

of a liquid : to rise to a surface and flow out

well

adverb

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.

well

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of well (Entry 5 of 5)

: in good health
: in a good or satisfactory state
formal : wise, sensible, or reasonable

well

adverb
\ 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

well

noun

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.

well

adjective

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.

well

verb
welled; welling

Kids Definition of well (Entry 5 of 5)

: to rise to the surface and flow out Tears welled up in her eyes.

well

adjective
\ 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

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).

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to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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