Idioms for well

Origin of well

1
before 900; Middle English, Old English wel(l) (adj. and adv.); cognate with Dutch wel, German wohl, Old Norse vel, Gothic waila

grammar notes for well

Sometimes an adverb like well is so often placed in front of and combined with a certain past participle in order to modify it that the resulting adjectival combination achieves the status of a common word and is listed in dictionaries. In Dictionary.com you will find, for example, entries for well-advised and well-mannered; for ill-advised, ill-bred, and ill-conceived; and for half-baked and half-cocked. Some of these terms are given full definitions, while others are considered such obvious combinations that you can figure out for yourself what they must mean. It is important to note, however, that compound adjectives like these are hyphenated for use before the noun they modify together. Thus we say that someone is “a well-loved professor,” but there would be no hyphen between well and loved in a sentence like “My English professor is well loved and deserves the award.”
In a similar manner, adjectival compounds formed with better, best, little, lesser, least, etc., are also hyphenated when placed before the noun ( a little-understood theory ), but the hyphen is dropped when the adjectival combination follows the noun ( his films are best known in England ) or is itself modified by an adverb ( a too little understood theory ).
There are exceptions to this pattern. For example, when the combining adverb ends in –ly, no hyphen is required, whether the resulting adjectival combination appears before or after the noun: a highly regarded surgeon; a surgeon who is highly regarded.
Don’t let the hyphens fool you. Punctuation can be tricky!

usage note for well

See good.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for leave well enough alone (1 of 2)

Word Origin for well

Old English wel; related to Old High German wala, wola (German wohl), Old Norse val, Gothic waila

British Dictionary definitions for leave well enough alone (2 of 2)

well2
/ (wɛl) /

noun

verb

to flow or cause to flow upwards or outwardstears welled from her eyes

Word Origin for well

Old English wella; related to Old High German wella (German Welle wave), Old Norse vella boiling heat
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Science definitions for leave well enough alone

well
[ wĕl ]

A deep hole or shaft sunk into the Earth to tap a liquid or gaseous substance such as water, oil, gas, or brine. If the substance is not under sufficient pressure to flow freely from the well, it must be pumped or raised mechanically to the surface. Water or pressurized gas is sometimes pumped into a nonproducing oil well to push petroleum resources out of underground reservoirs. See also artesian well.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Culture definitions for leave well enough alone

Leave well enough alone

If things are going tolerably well, leave them alone; your efforts to improve the situation may make things worse.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with leave well enough alone (1 of 2)

leave well enough alone

Also, let well enough alone. Do not try to change something lest you make it worse. For example, This recipe has turned out fine in the past, so leave well enough alone. The idea behind this expression dates from ancient Greek times, specifically Aesop's fable about a fox who refused a hedgehog's offer to take out its ticks lest, by removing those that are full, other hungry ones will replace them. Put as let well alone from the early 1700s, it was first recorded as let well enough alone in 1827. Also see let sleeping dogs lie.

Idioms and Phrases with leave well enough alone (2 of 2)

well

In addition to the idioms beginning with well

  • well and good
  • well off
  • well out of, be
  • well preserved

also see:

  • alive and kicking (well)
  • all's well that ends well
  • all very well
  • as well
  • as well as
  • augur well for
  • damn well
  • do well
  • full well
  • get well
  • hanged for a sheep, might as well be
  • leave well enough alone
  • only too (well)
  • sit well with
  • think a lot (well) of
  • to a fare-thee-well
  • very well
  • wear well
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.