• synonyms


See more synonyms for Wells on Thesaurus.com
  1. Henry,1805–78, U.S. businessman: pioneered in banking, stagecoach services, and express shipping.
  2. H(erbert) G(eorge),1866–1946, English novelist and historian.
  3. Horace,1815–48, U.S. dentist: pioneered use of nitrous oxide as an anesthetic.
  4. Ida BellIda Bell Wells-Barnett, 1862–1931, U.S. journalist and civil-rights leader.
  5. a historic town in E Somersetshire, in SW England: cathedral.
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  1. in a good or satisfactory manner: Business is going well.
  2. thoroughly, carefully, or soundly: to shake well before using; listen well.
  3. in a moral or proper manner: to behave well.
  4. commendably, meritoriously, or excellently: a difficult task well done.
  5. with propriety, justice, or reason: I could not well refuse.
  6. adequately or sufficiently: Think well before you act.
  7. to a considerable extent or degree (often used in combination): a sum well over the amount agreed upon; a well-developed theme.
  8. with great or intimate knowledge: to know a person well.
  9. certainly; without doubt: I anger easily, as you well know.
  10. good nature;
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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.
  3. proper, fitting, or gratifying: It is well that you didn't go.
  4. in a satisfactory position; well-off: I am very well as I am.
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  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?
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  1. well-being; good fortune; success: to wish well to someone.
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  1. as well,
    1. in addition; also; too: She insisted on directing the play and on producing it as well.
    2. 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.
  3. leave well enough alone, avoid changing something that is satisfactory.
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Origin of well1

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


See more synonyms for well on Thesaurus.com
3. properly, correctly. 4. skillfully, adeptly, accurately, efficiently. 5. suitably. 6. fully, amply. 7. rather, quite. 11. healthy, hale, hearty. 12. fine. 13. suitable, befitting, appropriate. 14. fortunate, happy.


3. poorly, badly. 11. ill, sick.

Grammar note

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

See good.


  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.
  3. an apparent reservoir or a source of human feelings, emotions, energy, etc.: He was a well of gentleness and courtesy.
  4. a container, receptacle, or reservoir for a liquid: the well of ink in a fountain pen.
  5. 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.
  6. Nautical.
    1. a part of a weather deck between two superstructures, extending from one side of a vessel to the other.
    2. a compartment or enclosure around a ship's pumps to make them easily accessible and protect them from being damaged by the cargo.
  7. 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.
  8. any shaft dug or bored into the earth, as for storage space or a mine.
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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.
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verb (used with object)
  1. to send welling up or forth: a fountain welling its pure water.
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  1. like, of, resembling, from, or used in connection with a well.
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Origin of well2

before 900; (noun) Middle English well(e), Old English wylle, wella, welle; cognate with German Welle wave; (v.) Middle English wellen, Old English wellan (cognate with Dutch wellen, Old Norse vella); both noun and v. ultimately akin to weallan to boil


See more synonyms for well on Thesaurus.com
3. store, fund, mine, fount.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for wells

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

British Dictionary definitions for wells


  1. a city in SW England, in Somerset: 12th-century cathedral. Pop: 10 406 (2001)
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  1. Henry. 1805–78, US businessman, who founded (1852) with William Fargo the express mail service Wells, Fargo and Company
  2. H (erbert) G (eorge). 1866–1946, British writer. His science-fiction stories include The Time Machine (1895), War of the Worlds (1898), and The Shape of Things to Come (1933). His novels on contemporary social questions, such as Kipps (1905), Tono-Bungay (1909), and Ann Veronica (1909), affected the opinions of his day. His nonfiction works include The Outline of History (1920)
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adverb better or best
  1. (often used in combination) in a satisfactory mannerthe party went very well
  2. (often used in combination) in a good, skilful, or pleasing mannershe plays the violin well
  3. in a correct or careful mannerlisten well to my words
  4. in a comfortable or prosperous mannerto live well
  5. (usually used with auxiliaries) suitably; fittinglyyou can't very well say that
  6. intimatelyI knew him well
  7. in a kind or favourable mannershe speaks well of you
  8. to a great or considerable extent; fullyto be well informed
  9. by a considerable marginlet me know well in advance
  10. (preceded by could, might, or may) indeedyou may well have to do it yourself
  11. informal (intensifier)well safe
  12. all very well used ironically to express discontent, dissent, etc
  13. as well
    1. in addition; too
    2. (preceded by may or might)with equal effectyou might as well come
    3. just as wellpreferable or advisableit would be just as well if you paid me now
  14. as well as in addition to
  15. just leave well alone or just leave well enough alone to refrain from interfering with something that is satisfactory
  16. well and good used to indicate calm acceptance, as of a decisionif you accept my offer, well and good
  17. well up in well acquainted with (a particular subject); knowledgeable about
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adjective (usually postpositive)
  1. (when prenominal, usually used with a negative) in good healthI'm very well, thank you; he's not a well man
  2. satisfactory, agreeable, or pleasing
  3. prudent; advisableit would be well to make no comment
  4. prosperous or comfortable
  5. fortunate or happyit is well that you agreed to go
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    1. an expression of surprise, indignation, or reproof
    2. an expression of anticipation in waiting for an answer or remark
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sentence connector
  1. an expression used to preface a remark, gain time, etcwell, I don't think I will come
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Word Origin

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


  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
    1. a cavity, space, or vessel used to contain a liquid
    2. (in combination)an inkwell
  3. an open shaft through the floors of a building, such as one used for a staircase
  4. a deep enclosed space in a building or between buildings that is open to the sky to permit light and air to enter
    1. a bulkheaded compartment built around a ship's pumps for protection and ease of access
    2. another word for cockpit
  5. a perforated tank in the hold of a fishing boat for keeping caught fish alive
  6. (in England) the open space in the centre of a law court
  7. a source, esp one that provides a continuous supplyhe is a well of knowledge
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  1. to flow or cause to flow upwards or outwardstears welled from her eyes
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Word Origin

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

Word Origin and History for wells



"hole dug for water, spring of water," Old English wielle (West Saxon), welle (Anglian), from wiellan (see well (v.)).

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"in a satisfactory manner," Old English wel, common Germanic (cf. Old Saxon wela, Old Norse vel, Old Frisian wel, Dutch wel, Old High German wela, German wohl, Gothic waila "well"), from PIE *wel-, *wol- (cf. Sanskrit prati varam "at will," Old Church Slavonic vole "well," Welsh gwell "better," Latin velle "to wish, will," Old English willan "to wish;" see will (v.)). Also used in Old English as an interjection and an expression of surprise. Well-to-do "prosperous" is recorded from 1825.

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"to spring, rise, gush," Old English wiellan (Anglian wællan), causative of weallan "to boil, bubble up" (class VII strong verb; past tense weoll, past participle weallen), from Proto-Germanic *wal-, *wel- "roll" (cf. Old Saxon wallan, Old Norse vella, Old Frisian walla, Old High German wallan, German wallen, Gothic wulan "to bubble, boil"), from PIE root *wel- "to turn, roll" (see volvox), on notion of "roiling or bubbling water."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

wells in Medicine


(wĕlz)Horace 1815-1848
  1. American dentist who was the first to use nitrous oxide to anesthetize patients during oral surgery.
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The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

wells in Science


  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.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

Idioms and Phrases with wells


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.