\ 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

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 Excessive overdrafts are certainly harmful to the well-being of consumers. Ricardo Torres, Journal Sentinel, 11 Aug. 2022 State rankings were based on factors in four areas: education, health, family/community and economic well-being. Orlando Mayorquin, USA TODAY, 10 Aug. 2022 Industry experts focused on physical, mental and emotional well-being will also be present. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 9 Aug. 2022 The report compares 16 indicators over four categories – economic well-being, education, health, and family and community. Mike Cason | Mcason@al.com, al, 8 Aug. 2022 In some cases, that blow to their emotional well-being, as well as their grades, can lead to students dropping out. Megan Leonhardt, Fortune, 12 July 2022 For the moment, Cuoco remains happily single, focusing on her own well-being after a year of nonstop stress due to The Flight Attendant's grueling schedule as well as her divorce. Sam Reed, Glamour, 14 Apr. 2022 My wife looks at my wellness in a more holistic manner, placing more attention to my physical health as well as my emotional well-being. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 5 Apr. 2022 This is obviously a tremendous humanitarian crisis first and foremost, with plenty of reason to be concerned about the well-being of the three million (and counting) refugees throughout Europe, as well as the brave soldiers fighting in the country. Michael Foster, Forbes, 26 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Since the start of 2021, the equity portion of its portfolio has more than doubled from $1.5 billion to well over $3 billion––total dollar holdings, including project debt, stand at around $6 billion. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 9 July 2022 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adverb Then devise a unified video approach that will meet your needs well into the future. Scott Murray, Forbes, 1 Aug. 2022 Camping, hiking, beach days, woodland getaways—any and all of these would do well for your wavering spirit. Meghan Rose, Glamour, 1 Aug. 2022 His parents had five children, did well in farming produce, and in 1939 decided to move back to Hiroshima. Bo Emerson, ajc, 1 Aug. 2022 With seasonal heat in the mid-80s and track temperatures well into the 100s, that made for a dangerous recipe. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 31 July 2022 Some of the most staunchly conservative areas in Kansas lie to the west, where the campaign expects to do well. Peter Slevin, The New Yorker, 30 July 2022 Actually, very few vines do well in the shade but one exception is the confederate jasmine. Tom Maccubbin, Orlando Sentinel, 30 July 2022 While most modern-day makeup mavens might stop short of being buried with their favorite lippies (as well-to-do Sumerians once did), many have a go-to shade that’s earned a permanent place in their cosmetics kits. Danielle Directo-meston, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 July 2022 The tragic death of Spencer Webb earlier this month will have a lasting impact on the program, having nothing to do with football and plenty to do with it as well. James Crepea | The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive, 28 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Interjection In new research, scientists have trained atoms to exhibit two forms of time at the same, well, time. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, 1 Aug. 2022 Meanwhile, Willie Jack, who committed to staying with her family by the end of the first season, doubles down on that choice in the second, while Cheese…well, Cheese is basically fine and unusually wise, as ever. Caroline Framke, Variety, 1 Aug. 2022 The celebrity high fliers are, well, on a different plane of travel. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 1 Aug. 2022 McAfee used that moment to kick Corbin, well, yeah, there. Scott Horner, The Indianapolis Star, 31 July 2022 Along the spine of the Appalachians and well south of D.C., the relatively higher threat of flooding rainfall exceeds a 15 percent chance, as shown in yellow shading in the graphic. A. Camden Walker, Washington Post, 31 July 2022 The popcorn is spicy and limey, but maybe even worse, the label on the bag is as off-center as my, well, never mind. Alex Beggs, Bon Appétit, 29 July 2022 After entering the White House with dreams of becoming the next FDR, Biden’s many plans have been tripped up by, well, just about everything—inflation, the war in Ukraine, Senator Joe Manchin, and his own mistakes. Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, 27 July 2022 Besides being the most powerful iteration of the 928 (well, at least until the arrival of the 928GTS in the early 1990s), the 928S4 was also the most aerodynamic. Greg Fink, Car and Driver, 27 July 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The 2023 Oscars may be well over seven months away and the events of the ceremony last March may be still making headlines. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Aug. 2022 While space hotels might be hard to fathom, plans for this life-changing invention are well on their way, with space companies such as Orbital Assembly on track to open their doors for people before the end of this decade. WSJ, 2 Aug. 2022 Baccarat Rouge, in particular, is well on its way to becoming a scent profile, as it’s being copied in candles and mass-market bath and body products. Jane Daly, Harper's BAZAAR, 1 Aug. 2022 At the same time, Tisdale — as someone who found herself at home more than ever before — was also well on her journey into the world of fragrances and discovering what scents could do from a wellness perspective. Sarah Han, Allure, 18 July 2022 By the time his campaign ended, the two were well on their way to a life together. New York Times, 15 July 2022 If this were any other year, Lee would be well on his way to an easy win over his Democratic opponent. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, 6 July 2022 By then, the Giants had yielded two unearned runs and were well on their way to another ugly loss. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, 3 July 2022 Hendrix's cover, performed live in 1969 at Woodstock, is well, legendary. Amanda Horowitz Usatoday, The Enquirer, 1 July 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.

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

13 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Well.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/well. Accessed 14 Aug. 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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