well

noun
\ 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

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 \; 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?

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

Others are concerned tunneling and station work could damage the temples or drain wells on the temple sites. Corinne Abrams, WSJ, "‘You Have to Actually Cut Open Mumbai’s Belly’—Inside One of the World’s Most Audacious Transit Projects," 6 Jan. 2019 Secondly, the ship’s long, flat, open cargo well makes an excellent location to park banks of electrical generators that power the railgun. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "China’s Railgun Has Reportedly Gone to Sea," 31 Dec. 2018 That's because from January to April trade winds from the north blow most of the warm surface water out to sea, and colder water wells up from the depths to replace it. Kiona N. Smith, Ars Technica, "The skulls of ancient pearl divers come with abnormal ear canal bone growths," 28 Dec. 2018 There are several topical creams and treatments, such as low-dose antibiotics, that give some patients relief from their symptoms, though none have ever worked that well for me. Nadia Berenstein, SELF, "Holiday Parties Bring Out the Worst of My Rosacea," 19 Dec. 2018 Taylor Energy plugged nine wells, leaving 16 unplugged. Michael Kunzelman, The Seattle Times, "Company can be ordered to drill to end 14-year-old oil leak," 21 Nov. 2018 The Duke of Cambridge reportedly sent thank you postcards to the well-wishers who greeted him for his 36th birthday on June 21, Hello! reports, and the photo on the card is quite easy on the eyes. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William Sent a Low-Key Hot Photo of Himself to Fans Who Wished Him Happy Birthday," 6 Nov. 2018 Because hydrangeas have shallow root systems, mulch well to prevent them from drying out. Arricca Sansone, Country Living, "How to Grow Hydrangeas," 1 Aug. 2018 By federal law, the president’s family is protected under the watch of the U.S. Secret Service, which makes sense: The president of the United States is a high-profile public figure, and threats to the well-being of a president's family are real. Kaylen Ralph, Teen Vogue, "Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner Are Spending Taxpayer Money on Security for Their Vacations," 14 Dec. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb

That may be just as well, as the state of modern air defenses means the new bomber would probably just be used as a standoff cruise missile carrier. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "Report: Russia Designing Cruise Missiles with 3,000 Mile Range," 8 Jan. 2019 That said, eating a variety of produce is crucial for better well-being for the long-term. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Fact: Cabbage Packs the Same Nutritional Benefits as Kale," 7 Jan. 2019 And who has ever been in a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being on a constant basis? Caroline Rothstein, Marie Claire, "The Wellness Industry Isn't Making You Well," 1 Jan. 2019 Newer devices, like the iPhone XS and XR, are unaffected by the ruling, and the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 will still be available from third-party sellers and carriers as well. Chaim Gartenberg, The Verge, "Apple will pull older iPhones from its German stores after Qualcomm wins partial ban," 20 Dec. 2018 Following in the tradition of Napa and Sonoma, Valle de Guadalupe is well on its way to having a restaurant scene as world-class as its vineyards. —Fiona Kerr The City to Check Into: New Orleans, U.S. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Next Great Food Scene, Beach Town, and More: The 2019 Trends We're Calling Now," 18 Dec. 2018 The White House would do well to understand that in some ways these groups are its most potent threat. Kimberley A. Strassel, WSJ, "The Trump ‘Ethics’ Resistance," 27 Dec. 2018 Rivers was raised in a well-to-do section of Westchester by Jewish parents, with a mother wjp closely resembled Rose in Maisel's first season. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel," 16 Dec. 2018 Two kinds of bugs feature in this issue of Discover as well: One type lives in our homes, another in our bodies. Discover Magazine, "Table of Contents Dec 2018," 24 Nov. 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

The highest risk would be well water that has not been tested, especially if there's industrial dumping or hydraulic fracturing (fracking) going on near your home. Rachael Moeller Gorman, Good Housekeeping, "Is Your Tap Water Safe?," 15 Aug. 2012 Hutch also will offer in-home full-service design consultations and services, as well commercial design services and commercial-grade furniture. Joyce Smith, kansascity, "New to the Crossroads: furniture & home decor store; an artisan collective with cafe," 31 May 2018 Many people commented on the post to give Kirk their well wishes. Jennifer Aldrich, Country Living, "Catherine Zeta-Jones Celebrates Kirk Douglas's 102 Birthday With an Emotional Tribute," 13 Dec. 2018 The proposed rule would only require well inspections once a year, or every other year for some low-production wells, rather than every six months as in the current rule. Heidi Vogt, WSJ, "EPA Announces Proposal to Roll Back Obama-Era Rules on Methane Emissions," 11 Sep. 2018 Over the course of their 16-day tour of the Oceania region, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have met thousands of fans, all eager to give their well-wishes to the royal couple and to congratulate them on their baby news. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince Harry Comforts Six-Year-Old Boy in New Zealand Who Lost His Mother," 30 Oct. 2018 Both agencies worked together to create a framework to gauge how well schools are doing — think the Every Student Succeeds Act, but on a state level. Dahlia Bazzaz, The Seattle Times, "Parents and taxpayers, you have 6 days to tell state officials what you want out of Washington’s public schools," 24 July 2018 Elections are a way to engage with those institutions and participate in key aspects of your well-being. Jennifer Victor, Vox, "What good are elections, anyway?," 30 Oct. 2018 The midterms could have an even bigger impact on your well-being. Kaitlin Menza, Redbook, "Everything You Need to Know Before Voting in the Midterm Elections," 10 Oct. 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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Learn More about well

Statistics for well

Last Updated

13 Jan 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

: wise, sensible, or reasonable

well

adverb
\ 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

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 \

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

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WORD OF THE DAY

to gather or build up little by little

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