[ wel ]
See synonyms for: wellbestbetterwelled on Thesaurus.com

  1. in a good or satisfactory manner: Business is going well.

  2. thoroughly, carefully, or soundly: to shake well before using; listen well.

  1. in a moral or proper manner: to behave well.

  2. commendably, meritoriously, or excellently: a difficult task well done.

  3. with propriety, justice, or reason: I could not well refuse.

  4. adequately or sufficiently: Think well before you act.

  5. to a considerable extent or degree (often used in combination): a sum well over the amount agreed upon;a well-developed theme.

  6. with great or intimate knowledge: to know a person well.

  7. certainly; without doubt: I anger easily, as you well know.

  8. with good nature; without rancor: He took the joke well.

adjective,comparative bet·ter,superlative best.
  1. in good health; sound in body and mind: Are you well? He is not a well man.

  2. satisfactory, pleasing, or good: All is well with us.

  1. proper, fitting, or gratifying: It is well that you didn't go.

  2. in a satisfactory position; well-off: I am very well as I am.

  1. (used to express surprise, reproof, etc.): Well! There's no need to shout.

  2. (used to introduce a sentence, resume a conversation, etc.): Well, who would have thought he could do it?

  1. well-being; good fortune; success: to wish well to someone.

Idioms about well

  1. as well,

    • in addition; also; too: She insisted on directing the play and on producing it as well.

    • equally: The town grew as well because of its location as because of its superb climate.

  2. as well as, as much or as truly as; equally as: Joan is witty as well as intelligent.

  1. leave well enough alone, avoid changing something that is satisfactory.

Origin of well

First recorded before 900; Middle English adverb wel, wel(l)e, wil, Old English adjective and adverb wel(l); cognate with Dutch wel, Old High German wela, wola, German wohl, Old Norse vel, Gothic waila; akin to Old English wyllan “to wish,” Latin velle “to wish”; see also will1

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.

Other words for well

Opposites for well

Other definitions for well (2 of 3)

[ wel ]

  1. a hole drilled or bored into the earth to obtain water, petroleum, natural gas, brine, or sulfur.

  2. a spring or natural source of water.

  1. an apparent reservoir or a source of human feelings, emotions, energy, etc.: He was a well of gentleness and courtesy.

  2. a container, receptacle, or reservoir for a liquid: the well of ink in a fountain pen.

  3. any sunken or deep, enclosed space, as a shaft for air or light, stairs, or an elevator, extending vertically through the floors of a building.

  4. Nautical.

    • a part of a weather deck between two superstructures, extending from one side of a vessel to the other.

    • a compartment or enclosure around a ship's pumps to make them easily accessible and protect them from being damaged by the cargo.

  5. a hollow compartment, recessed area, or depression for holding a specific item or items, as fish in the bottom of a boat or the retracted wheels of an airplane in flight.

  6. any shaft dug or bored into the earth, as for storage space or a mine.

verb (used without object)
  1. to rise, spring, or gush, as water, from the earth or some other source (often followed by up, out, or forth): Tears welled up in my eyes.

verb (used with object)
  1. to send welling up or forth: a fountain welling its pure water.

  1. like, of, resembling, from, or used in connection with a well.

Origin of well

First recorded before 900; Middle English noun wel(le), Old English wylle, wella, welle; cognate with German Welle “wave”; Middle English wellen, wel(le), Old English wellan, willan, wyllan; cognate with Dutch wellen, Old Norse vella; both noun and verb ultimately akin to weallan “to boil, bubble up”

Other words for well

Other definitions for we'll (3 of 3)

[ weel; unstressed wil ]

  1. contraction of we will.

usage note For we'll

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use well in a sentence

  • The needs of those poor hungry souls rose before me, as I sang and prayed, and the message of love came welling up in my soul.

    Prisons and Prayer: Or a Labor of Love | Elizabeth Ryder Wheaton
  • Nobody noticedin the busy amenitiesthe sudden welling and ebbing of that one poor little heart-fountain.

    The Minister's Wooing | Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Nancy felt happy tears welling into her eyes, and Della Rocca's clear-cut, down-curving profile wavered before her gaze.

    The Devourers | Annie Vivanti Chartres
  • Her little hand trembled, and her bosom heaved as though a sob were welling up for utterance.

  • Many shed tears, and felt, as they withdrew in respectful silence, a new sense of devotion welling up in their hearts.

    The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte | William Milligan Sloane

British Dictionary definitions for well (1 of 3)


/ (wɛl) /

adverbbetter or best
  1. (often used in combination) in a satisfactory manner: the party went very well

  2. (often used in combination) in a good, skilful, or pleasing manner: she plays the violin well

  1. in a correct or careful manner: listen well to my words

  2. in a comfortable or prosperous manner: to live well

  3. (usually used with auxiliaries) suitably; fittingly: you can't very well say that

  4. intimately: I knew him well

  5. in a kind or favourable manner: she speaks well of you

  6. to a great or considerable extent; fully: to be well informed

  7. by a considerable margin: let me know well in advance

  8. (preceded by could, might, or may) indeed: you may well have to do it yourself

  9. informal (intensifier): well safe

  10. all very well used ironically to express discontent, dissent, etc

  11. as well

    • in addition; too

    • (preceded by may or might) with equal effect: you might as well come

    • just as well preferable or advisable: it would be just as well if you paid me now

  12. as well as in addition to

  13. just leave well alone or just leave well enough alone to refrain from interfering with something that is satisfactory

  14. well and good used to indicate calm acceptance, as of a decision: if you accept my offer, well and good

  15. well up in well acquainted with (a particular subject); knowledgeable about

adjective(usually postpositive)
  1. (when prenominal, usually used with a negative) in good health: I'm very well, thank you; he's not a well man

  2. satisfactory, agreeable, or pleasing

  1. prudent; advisable: it would be well to make no comment

  2. prosperous or comfortable

  3. fortunate or happy: it is well that you agreed to go

    • an expression of surprise, indignation, or reproof

    • an expression of anticipation in waiting for an answer or remark

sentence connector
  1. an expression used to preface a remark, gain time, etc: well, I don't think I will come

Origin of well

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

British Dictionary definitions for well (2 of 3)


/ (wɛl) /

  1. a hole or shaft that is excavated, drilled, bored, or cut into the earth so as to tap a supply of water, oil, gas, etc

  2. a natural pool where ground water comes to the surface

    • a cavity, space, or vessel used to contain a liquid

    • (in combination): an inkwell

  1. an open shaft through the floors of a building, such as one used for a staircase

  2. a deep enclosed space in a building or between buildings that is open to the sky to permit light and air to enter

    • a bulkheaded compartment built around a ship's pumps for protection and ease of access

    • another word for cockpit

  3. a perforated tank in the hold of a fishing boat for keeping caught fish alive

  4. (in England) the open space in the centre of a law court

  5. a source, esp one that provides a continuous supply: he is a well of knowledge

  1. to flow or cause to flow upwards or outwards: tears welled from her eyes

Origin of well

Old English wella; related to Old High German wella (German Welle wave), Old Norse vella boiling heat

British Dictionary definitions for we'll (3 of 3)


/ (wiːl) /

contraction of
  1. we will or we shall

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

Scientific definitions for well


[ wĕl ]

  1. 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.

Other Idioms and Phrases with 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.