• Well


    • IPA: /wɛl/
    • Rhymes: -ɛl

    Origin 1

    From Middle English wel, wal, wol, wele, from Old English wel, wæl, well ("well, abundantly, very, very easily, very much, fully, quite, nearly"), from Proto-Germanic *wela, *walō ("well", literally as wished, as desired), from Proto-Indo-European *wel- ("wish, desire"), *wol-. Cognate with Scots wele, weil ("well"), North Frisian wel, weil, wal ("well"), West Frisian wol ("well"), Dutch wel ("well"), Low German wol ("well"), German wol, wohl ("well"), Danish vel ("well"), Swedish väl ("well"), Icelandic vel, val ("well"). Non-Germanic cognate include Albanian vallë ("well, perhaps, wishfully"). Related to will.

    Alternative forms

    Full definition of well



    1. (manner) Accurately, competently, satisfactorily.
      • In the lightness of my heart I sang catches of songs as my horse gayly bore me along the well-remembered road.
      • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, Mr. Pratt's Patients Chapter 1, A chap named Eleazir Kendrick and I had chummed in together the summer afore and built a fish-weir and shanty at Setuckit Point, down Orham way. For a spell we done pretty well. Then there came a reg'lar terror of a sou'wester same as you don't get one summer in a thousand, and blowed the shanty flat and ripped about half of the weir poles out of the sand.
      • 2013-07-20, Welcome to the plastisphere, Plastics are energy-rich substances, which is why many of them burn so readily. Any organism that could unlock and use that energy would do well in the Anthropocene. Terrestrial bacteria and fungi which can manage this trick are already familiar to experts in the field.
    2. He does his job well.
    3. (manner) Completely, fully.
      a well done steak
    4. (degree) To a significant degree.
      • 1995, Feb, Luke Timothy Johnson, The New Testament and the examined life: Thoughts on teaching, Indeed, some readers may feel that I am beating a horse now already well dead. But in fact, that dead horse is still being driven daily through the pages of introductory textbooks.
      • 2000, Colin Robinson, Energy Economists and Economic Liberalism, Energy markets demonstrated in the 1970s and 1980s that they were well capable of adapting to a perceived scarcity.
      • 2006, Spider Robinson, Callahan's legacy, neither of us was paying attention to any damn imaginary scoring judges -- we were both well content, if a little fatigued.
    5. That author is well known.
    6. (degree, British, slang) Very (as a general-purpose intensifier).
      • 1999, "Drummond Pearson", What Ash are doing right now... (on Internet newsgroup alt.music.ash)That guy rocks! I think he's called Matthew Lillard or sommat but he is well cool in Scream.
      • 2002, "jibaili", FIFA 2003 How is it? (on Internet newsgroup microsoft.public.xbox)Hey Dude
        FIFA 2003 is well wicked, I've got FIFA 2002 on PS2, David Beckham on Xbox and Football Manager on Xbox too, out of all pf them FIFA 2003 is easliy the best..
      • 2003, Steve Eddy, Empower, Book 2Hey, you should've seen it, it was well good.
    7. In such manner as is desirable; so as one could wish; satisfactorily; favourably; advantageously.
      • DrydenIt boded well to you.
      • MiltonKnow
        In measure what the mind may well contain.
      • Alexander PopeAll the world speaks well of you.



    1. In good health.I had been sick, but now I'm well.
    2. (archaic) Prudent; good; well-advised.
      • 1897, National Association of Railway Surgeons, Railway surgeon, page 191:On leaving the operating table it is well to put the patient in a bed previously warmed and supplied with hot cans.


    1. Used to acknowledge a statement or situation.
      • 1913, Joseph C. Lincoln, Mr. Pratt's Patients Chapter 5, Well,” I says, “I cal'late a body could get used to Tophet if he stayed there long enough.” ¶ She flared up; the least mite of a slam at Doctor Wool was enough to set her going.
    2. “The car is broken.” “Well, we could walk to the movies instead.”
      “I didn't like the music.” “Well, I thought it was good.”
      (Accidentally sets tent on fire) “Well, I guess we're sleeping under the stars tonight.”
    3. An exclamation of surprise, often doubled or tripled.
      Well, well, well, what do we have here?
    4. Used in speech to express the overcoming of reluctance to say something.
      • 1898, Winston Churchill, The Celebrity Chapter 4, Well,” I answered, at first with uncertainty, then with inspiration, “he would do splendidly to lead your cotillon, if you think of having one.” ¶ “So you do not dance, Mr. Crocker?” ¶ I was somewhat set back by her perspicuity.
    5. It was a bit... well... too loud.
    6. Used in speech to fill gaps; filled pause.
      “So what have you been doing?” “Well, we went for a picnic, and then it started raining so we came home early.”

    Derived terms

    Origin 2

    From Old English well ("well"), from Proto-Germanic *wall-.



    (plural wells)
    1. A hole sunk into the ground as a source of water, oil, natural gas or other fluids.
      • Bible, John iv. 11The woman said unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep.
    2. A place where a liquid such as water surfaces naturally; a spring.
      • MiltonBegin, then, sisters of the sacred well.
    3. A small depression suitable for holding liquid, or other objects.
    4. (figurative) A source of supply.
      • SpenserDan Chaucer, well of English undefiled
      • Keblea well of serious thought and pure
    5. (nautical) A vertical, cylindrical trunk in a ship, reaching down to the lowest part of the hull, through which the bilge pumps operate.
    6. (nautical) The cockpit of a sailboat.
    7. (nautical) A compartment in the middle of the hold of a fishing vessel, made tight at the sides, but having holes perforated in the bottom to let in water to keep fish alive while they are transported to market.
    8. (nautical) A vertical passage in the stern into which an auxiliary screw propeller may be drawn up out of the water.
    9. (military) A hole or excavation in the earth, in mining, from which run branches or galleries.
    10. (architecture) An opening through the floors of a building, as for a staircase or an elevator; a wellhole.
    11. (metalworking) The lower part of a furnace, into which the metal falls.
    12. A well drink.They're having a special tonight: $1 wells.
    13. (video games) The playfield of the video game Tetris, into which the blocks fall.

    Origin 3

    From Old English weallan. Cognate with German wallen ("boil, seethe"), Danish vælde ("gush"), Albanian valoj ("I boil, seethe").


    1. To issue forth, as water from the earth; to flow; to spring.
      • DrydenBlood welled from out the wound.
      • Bryantspring wells softly forth.
    2. To have something seep out of the surface.Her eyes welled with tears.
    © Wiktionary