There are 2 main definitions of well in English:

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well 1

Pronunciation: /wɛl/

adverb (better, best)

1In a good or satisfactory way: the whole team played well
More example sentences
  • My mash was creamy and tasty, and the leeks complemented the hotpot well.
  • The ciabatta, crisp and coated in garlic was an excellent accompaniment and mixed well with the coulee.
  • With the Community Hall progressing well, local clubs are planning for the future.
skilfully, with skill, ably, competently, proficiently, adeptly, adroitly, deftly, dexterously, effectively, expertly, with expertise, admirably, excellently, consummately, professionally
1.1In a way that is appropriate to the facts or circumstances: you did well to come and tell me [as submodifier, in combination]: a well-timed exit
More example sentences
  • In fact, it works well to lean down on your arm and use your weight to help yourself pivot.
  • In fact he adapted so well that he was to spend the next twenty seven and a half years in the Police Force.
  • You hold your own in an argument because you are always well armed with the facts.
satisfactorily, in a satisfactory manner/way, nicely, correctly, rightly, properly, fittingly, suitably, aptly, appropriately
1.2So as to have a fortunate outcome: his campaign was not going well
More example sentences
  • I've always run really well in practice, and I have been fortunate to qualify well.
  • Fortunately, it's worked out well and been a financial success, but did we know that going in?
  • If Fernando has done well there is praise, if he had been booked or cost Rangers a goal there is criticism and a tantrum.
1.3In a kind way: the animals will remain loyal to humans if treated well
More example sentences
  • We all like people to treat us well, to acknowledge us, to talk to us, to bond with us.
  • I was impressed with how well he treats the little guys and thought you might like to know.
  • If you want to be treated well, then very sweetly but firmly demand the respect you want.
decently, fairly, civilly, politely, genially, kindly, in a kind/kindly way, generously, hospitably;
respectably, honestly
1.4With praise or approval: people spoke well of him the film was quite well reviewed at the time
More example sentences
  • This is a major relief organisation working across India and which is extremely well respected.
  • The real deal is to explain why such stories should be so well received by the people of Taiwan.
  • It was at a television show that Muthoni's mother spoke well of her daughter's abilities after attending a special school where music was well factored.
admiringly, highly, approvingly, favourably, appreciatively, warmly, enthusiastically, glowingly, with admiration, with praise, with approbation
1.5With equanimity: she took it very well, all things considered
More example sentences
  • The way to get a promotion is to take criticism well, but most people don't know they don't do it well.
  • Christine took the bad news well enough but the rest of the Top 9 contestants were devastated to see their fellow singer sent home.
1.6Profitably; advantageously: she would marry well or not at all
More example sentences
  • They were a family line who seemed to have specialised in marrying well.
  • Olga predicated that it would him and myself who would marry well into St Petersburg society.
  • She had been considered very attractive when she was younger, and had married well at the time.
1.7In a condition of prosperity or comfort: they lived well and were generous with their money
More example sentences
  • It does not see that a nation being prosperous is about individual citizens living well.
  • People won't be inspired to learn Mandarin because a lot of them are already living well.
  • Death will still bring us peace, but the challenge is how to live this life well, not waste time preparing for the next.
comfortably, in comfort, in (the lap of) luxury, in ease, splendidly, prosperously, without hardship
1.8 archaic Luckily; opportunely: hail fellow, well met
More example sentences
  • Will it be a case of hail, hail fellow well met from the Broomloan slopes?
  • He was "hail, fellow, well met" with everyone the moment he reached town.
  • He is a jolly well-met fellow, like clubmen generally are, but perfectly honorable and straightforward.
2In a thorough manner: add the mustard and lemon juice and mix well
More example sentences
  • Gently stir together the first six ingredients with a pinch of salt until well mixed.
  • Most cookbooks get over this difficult stage by saying mix thoroughly and knead well.
  • Stir in the rice and break up any clumps so that all the grains get coated individually and everything mixes up well.
thoroughly, completely, efficiently, rigorously, effectively, conscientiously, industriously, carefully
carefully, closely, attentively, rigorously, in depth, exhaustively, from top to bottom, minutely, in detail, meticulously, scrupulously, assiduously, conscientiously, painstakingly, methodically, completely, comprehensively, fully, to the fullest extent, intensively, extensively
2.1To a great extent or degree (often used for emphasis): the visit had been planned well in advance [as submodifier, in combination]: a well-loved colleague a well-deserved reputation
More example sentences
  • From that moment on I vowed to plan my costume well in advance and put a little thought into it.
  • The key to planning a holiday for a large party is to book well in advance to ensure you all fly together and stay in the same hotel.
  • Plans to extend the fishery are well advanced and it is hoped to commence work in the next few weeks.
considerably, very much, greatly, to a great/marked extent/degree, a great deal, markedly, decidedly, substantially, easily, comfortably, materially, significantly, signally
informal seriously
2.2Intimately; closely: he knew my father very well
More example sentences
  • People who are well versed in hip-hop understand the need for diversity in the culture.
  • works of the seven, he adopts the more personal stance of one well versed in the arts.
  • I, and many people who knew him well, were saddened when we heard of his violent death.
harmoniously, agreeably, pleasantly, nicely, happily, politely, amicably, amiably, affably, genially, peaceably
informal famously
intimately, thoroughly, fully, deeply, profoundly, personally
2.3 [as submodifier] British informal Very; extremely: he was well out of order
More example sentences
  • In any event, an appeal against the order of 3 March 2000 is well out of time, the parties have acted in the meantime on the basis that the order was not under challenge, and it would be wrong, now, to extend time.
  • I realised my daughter was well out of the way and my only thought was to get out.
  • And railways especially were well out of fashion.
2.4 [with submodifier] Used as an intensifier: I should jolly well hope so
More example sentences
  • At this point, Brash should have told Dallow to bloody well look it up for himself.
  • They knew bloody well that these people were doing harmful things to innocent people.
  • This shows us both that we can do better, and that we bloody well should.
3 [with modal] Very probably; in all likelihood: being short of breath may well be the first sign of asthma
More example sentences
  • If so, the risk of litigation might well discourage the practice of defensive hacking even if it should be legal.
  • These may well be the same birds at times congregating on flooded pits at Tottenhill on the fen borders.
  • Indicators of what is possible and what is required may well follow from the results of a strategic assessment.
quite possibly, conceivably, quite likely, probably;
undoubtedly, certainly, unquestionably;
3.1Without difficulty: she could well afford to pay for the reception herself
More example sentences
  • The couple can well afford to pay the fine, but should probably get rid of their lax driver.
  • Does it make sense to give each of us a subsidy, when we can perfectly well afford the full price?
  • They could well afford it, given the umpteen millions they rake in from the motoring public.
easily, comfortably, readily, with ease, without difficulty, effortlessly
3.2With good reason: ‘What are we doing here?’ ‘You may well ask.’
More example sentences
  • Your Lordship has well in mind the degree to which the arguments found favour and to which they did not.
  • Merchants could well balk at supporting incompatible payment operations.
  • Why, you may well ask, does The Register class vagueness of this order as a clarification?

adjective (better, best)

1In good health; free or recovered from illness: I don’t feel very well it would be some time before Sarah was completely well [attributive]: informal I am not a well man
More example sentences
  • Get well wishes were sent to Mary Foyle who is recovering after her recent illness.
  • It has also correctly labelled as disease free most, but not all, of the well people.
  • Mason Brown took remedial action, prescribed his own cure and is now completely well.
healthy, in good health, all right, fine, fit, fighting fit, as fit as a fiddle, as fit as a flea, robust, strong, vigorous, blooming, thriving, bursting with health, in rude health, hale, hale and hearty, hearty, in good shape, in excellent shape, in good condition, in tip-top condition, in good trim, in fine fettle, sound, sound in body and limb
1.1In a satisfactory state or position: I do hope all is well with you and your family
More example sentences
  • To this I wish Cllr Clarke well and hope she will help to carry on the Town Council's good name and work.
  • We wish St. Declan's well and hope they will retain this flag for many years to come.
  • We wish him well and let us hope his first game against the Dubs ends in success.
satisfactory, all right, fine, in order, as it should be, acceptable
informal OK, fine and dandy, hunky-dory
North American & Australian/New Zealand informal jake
British informal, dated tickety-boo
2Sensible; advisable: it would be well to know just what this suggestion entails
More example sentences
  • But would it not be well to limit grand juries to the investigation of felons, and leave misdemeanors to inferior courts?
  • Only--if we decide to buy, it would be well to be moved in and settled before winter.
advisable, sensible, prudent, politic, commonsensical, wise, canny, judicious, shrewd, expedient, provident, recommended, advantageous, beneficial, profitable, gainful, desirable;
a good idea


1Used to express a range of emotions including surprise, anger, resignation, or relief: Well, really! The manners of some people!
More example sentences
  • If I could look back and say, well, there was always the yacht - that would be something.
  • You can tell when people really got it or, well, that's not for me, and you always get a bit of that.
  • That sounds arrogant but I liked the part, and I thought, well, who's he gonna get?
1.1Used when pausing to consider one’s next words, to mark the resumption or end of a conversation, etc. well, I suppose I could fit you in at 3.45 well, cheers, Tom—I must fly
More example sentences
  • Well, duped is too strong a word for it, but mislead seems a bit, well, too innocent.
  • At the time, it was considered a shabby place to live, because, well, we were a shabby family.
  • Whether snapped in Times Square or Tiananmen Square, they always look, well, square.
1.2Used to indicate that one is waiting for an answer or explanation from someone: Well? You promised to tell me all about it
More example sentences
  • Have you finished reading Harry Potter yet? Well, have you?
  • "Well, where do they come from then?"
  • If you don't think it is a good idea, well, what other ideas have you got?


The adverb well is often used in combination with past participles to form adjectival compounds: well adjusted, well intentioned, well known, and so on. As far as hyphenation is concerned, the general stylistic principle is that if the adjectival compound is placed attributively (i.e. it comes before the noun), it should be hyphenated ( a well-intentioned remark) but that if it is placed predicatively (i.e. standing alone after the verb), it should not be hyphenated ( her remarks were well intentioned). In this dictionary the unhyphenated form is generally the only one given, although the hyphenated form may be seen in illustrative examples.



as well

1In addition; too: the museum provides hours of fun and a few surprises as well
More example sentences
  • Some of my boys and some of the girls as well threw me a little surprise party on Saturday.
  • Not only did this come as a surprise to her, but the rest of the school as well.
  • Me and Eric walked into the living and I was surprised to see that my mum was here as well.
2 (also just as well) With equal reason or an equally good result: I may as well have a look
More example sentences
  • At home I lie gasping and read the Arabian Nights, but I may as well read the day's news.
  • Lastly, if the site or journal is too obscure, I may as well go post on some random message board.
  • If the top golfers are saying they may as well all pack up their bags for the next ten years it's a tragedy and very sad.
2.1Sensible, appropriate, or desirable: it would be as well to let him go
More example sentences
  • There'll be something else to panic about later, I might as well have a little tiny rest.
  • If you're going to have tempura, you might as well have it in a proper Japanese restaurant.
  • We may as well take advantage of reduced traffic to tend to other aspects of our lives.

as well as

And in addition; and also: a shop that sold books as well as newspapers
More example sentences
  • Each school kit contains materials for up to 80 children, as well as teaching supplies.
  • The kicks are delivered with great force and at toe, ankle and lower shin heights as well as into the mid leg range.
  • Student access to computer stations allows students to apply online to the college as well as apply for financial aid.

as well he (or she etc.) might (or may)

Used to convey the speaker’s opinion that a reaction is appropriate or unsurprising: she sounded rather chipper, as well she might, given her bright prospects
More example sentences
  • Steve apologised to his family, as well he might.
  • He takes his music very seriously, as well he might.
  • He was clutching the two Oscars he'd just won for Braveheart and he looked extremely pleased with himself, as well he might.

be well away

British informal Having made considerable or easy progress: if we got Terry to do that, we’d be well away
More example sentences
  • She adds: ‘By the evening I was well away, it was amazing.’
  • I was well away after 2 glasses of wine with my meal, don't know what the matter was, I'm no lightweight!
  • The shoots will be well away as soon as they are under the ground, giving the plant a head start and guaranteeing lots of delicious spuds.

be well in with

informal Have a good relationship with (someone in a position of influence or authority): you’re well in with O’Brien aren’t you
More example sentences
  • Unfortunately, the other player involved was well in with the manager, his blue-eyed boy, and I was the one who was ostracised.
  • Then it was cross-town motorcycle delivery, and by the time we got to skydiving delivery I reckoned I was well in with the company.
  • Absolutely up to him whom he allows on his land, and I'm sure he is well in with the rest of the Cheshire Aristocracy, but, m'Lord, nine acres ain't exactly an ‘estate’ - it is a very nice garden with a home paddock and hopefully a bit of woodland.

be well out of

British informal Be fortunate to be no longer involved in (a situation).
Example sentences
  • Given Libeskind's unhappy experiences since, maybe that was one project Viñoly was well out of.
  • The kids were well out of it, double sharp, and Mattie… It was the only time I acted without thinking.

very well

see very.
Example sentences
  • Ok, very well! when can I expect to hear back from you?
  • Very well then, I shall be in touch with you later today or tomorrow, with a revised offer.

(all) well and good

Used to express acceptance of a first statement before introducing a contradictory or confirming second statement: that’s all well and good, but why didn’t he phone her to say so?
More example sentences
  • Style is all well and good for a debut, but second albums require more substance and further expansion.
  • All well and good, but I really can't see why people are bending over backwards (or forwards, in our case) for him.
  • I do not expect the person who I have quoted here to come around to my way of thinking, though of course that would be well and good.

well and truly

Completely: Leith was well and truly rattled
More example sentences
  • Sadly, those in a position to help here have, as we all know, dropped the ball well and truly.
  • The days of authors being separated from the marketing machine are well and truly over.
  • Spring is sprung and the tourist season is well and truly under way in the North York Moors National Park.

well enough

To a reasonable degree: he liked Isobel well enough, but wouldn’t want to make a close friend of her
More example sentences
  • He was fit enough and well enough to put up a very good performance, but Barry felt he just ran flat from the home turn.
  • Sure enough they started well enough and at half-time looked likely for the win.
  • He did well enough at school to get into a good university and he studied hard and graduated with flying colours.

well worth

Certainly worth: Salzburg is well worth a visit
More example sentences
  • So when they do speak out, it is worth noting that they have a serious concern well worth listening to.
  • A short train journey to the north, Blair Atholl and Atholl Castle are well worth a visit.
  • The nachos were a big hit at the table and for the price that we paid, the portion was well worth it.


Old English wel(l), of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wel and German wohl; probably also to the verb will1. Vowel lengthening in Middle English gave rise to the current Scots form weel.

  • The well meaning ‘in a good way’ and well ‘shaft giving access to water’ are different Old English words. The first provides the first half of welfare (Middle English). The start of welcome (Old English), on the other hand, is from another Old English element, wil- meaning ‘pleasure’—welcome originally meant ‘a person whose arrival is pleasing’. Wealth (Middle English) has a basic sense of ‘well-being’, being formed from well in the same way that health (Old English) is formed from hale ( see wassail). The title of Shakespeare's comedy All's Well that Ends Well was already an old saying when he wrote the play at the beginning of the 17th century. The first record of the proverb is as early as 1250. People have been well endowed only since the 1950s, but men could be well-hung in the early 17th century. At this time it meant ‘having large ears’ as well as ‘having a large penis’. The well you get water from is Old English wella ‘spring of water’, of Germanic origin, from a base meaning ‘boil, bubble up’,

Words that rhyme with well

Adele, Aix-la-Chapelle, aquarelle, artel, au naturel, bagatelle, béchamel, befell, bell, belle, boatel, Brunel, Cadell, carousel, cartel, cell, Chanel, chanterelle, clientele, Clonmel, compel, Cornell, crime passionnel, dell, demoiselle, dispel, dwell, el, ell, Estelle, excel, expel, farewell, fell, Fidel, fontanelle, foretell, Gabrielle, gazelle, gel, Giselle, hell, hotel, impel, knell, lapel, mademoiselle, maître d'hôtel, Manuel, marcel, matériel, mesdemoiselles, Michel, Michelle, Miguel, misspell, morel, moschatel, Moselle, motel, muscatel, nacelle, Nell, Nobel, Noel, organelle, outsell, Parnell, pell-mell, personnel, propel, quell, quenelle, rappel, Raquel, Ravel, rebel, repel, Rochelle, Sahel, sardelle, sell, shell, show-and-tell, smell, Snell, spell, spinel, swell, tell, undersell, vielle, villanelle, yell

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There are 2 main definitions of well in English:

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well 2

Pronunciation: /wɛl/


1A shaft sunk into the ground to obtain water, oil, or gas.
Example sentences
  • Different concentrations of ground water nitrate were obtained by drilling irrigation wells into two aquifers.
  • The water available in villages is drawn from wells sunk in tanks and lakes.
  • Water for human consumption was traditionally obtained from wells, ponds, or rivers.
1.1 archaic A water spring or fountain.
Example sentences
  • By a gurgling well stood a handsome peasant woman with red arms, pouring water into the milk that she was going to carry to the city.
  • A gurgling well sprang from the foot of the altar, saving the townspeople from dying of thirst.
1.2 (Wells) [in place names] A place where there are mineral springs: Tunbridge Wells
More example sentences
  • The springs gave birth to the town and while Llandrindod Wells itself cannot be said to have been in existence much longer than a hundred years, there are landmarks in its development that span two or three centuries.
  • Tenbury had the ‘Wells’ added to its name in the mid 19th century to help promote the Mineral Water Wells that had been found in the town from 1840 onwards.
  • Tenbury Wells is a small ancient market town situated in the very north west of Worcestershire on the A456, close to the borders of Herefordshire and Shropshire.
1.3A depression made to hold liquid: put the flour on a flat surface and make a well to hold the eggs
More example sentences
  • The released liquids are gathered in wells specifically designed for that purpose.
  • One of the challenges in this process has been filling the femtoliter wells with liquid.
  • Later on we saw other wells that were simply depressions in rock with water coming from an unknown source, green with cress, and perhaps housed in a 19th Century hut.
2A plentiful source or supply: she could feel a deep well of sympathy and compassion
More example sentences
  • This originative source is a well from which very different kinds of poems can be drawn up.
  • There are deep wells of poverty in both which are a living reproach to their political representatives.
  • It is another job that requires individuals to plumb deep wells of patience.
3An enclosed space in the middle of a building, giving room for stairs or a lift, or to allow light or ventilation.
Example sentences
  • Hundreds of builders work like ants to construct walls, foundations, stairs, lift wells.
  • It is pulled inside and set in place before the front center console, lighted front door step wells and rear ‘kick guards’ are installed.
  • It took four years and over £1m to build the Midland, its six storeys arranged in a figure of eight around two wells, allowing as much natural light to the interior as possible.
3.1British The place in a law court where the clerks and ushers sit.
Example sentences
  • Other copies of which are available in the well of the court for any member of the public who wishes to read it.
  • To summarize, spoken language interpreters are stationed in the well of the courtroom only when there is a NES witness involved.
  • Also, only members of the bar are to be seated inside the rail and in the well of the Court.
4US A shelf beneath the counter of a bar on which bottles of alcohol are stored within easy reach of the person serving: you would have never heard of the label of the gin in the well in average bars
More example sentences
  • Well drinks are poured 'out of the well', a 'speed rack' of stock liquors kept at the bartender's station.
  • The clear glass bottle features a thick bottom for an enriched, specialty look, while the long body and short neck creates an aesthetically taller appearance that also functions easily in the bartenders’ well.
  • Because the well holds your average liquor, and is easily accessed, most drinks are made from that location of the bar.
4.1 [as modifier] Denoting or made with the relatively inexpensive brands of alcohol stored in the well of a bar. Compare with call (sense 9 of the noun). happy hour is from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays, with $4 well drinks and draft beers three shots of well tequila
More example sentences
  • Drink specials, including small pitchers of beer for $4.25 and well drinks for $3.75, also are available.
  • Also, get draft beers and well drinks for $3.
  • Wine, beer, and well drinks are all on us.
5 Physics A region of minimum potential: a gravity well
More example sentences
  • Sandwiched in the middle of the semiconductor are two layers of quantum wells in which the electrons and holes are created and confined to a 2D world.
  • Quantum wells consist of a thin sheet of crystalline semiconductor sandwiched between two sheets of another semiconductor.
  • Faced with the new electric fields introduced by the sound wave, the electrons and holes in the quantum well seek out their respective points of minimum energy in the presence of the fields.


[no object, with adverbial] (often well up)
1(Of a liquid) rise up to the surface and spill or be about to spill: tears were beginning to well up in her eyes
More example sentences
  • The researchers think the water welled up from beneath the planet's surface about five million years ago.
  • The new cut on her hand glinted in the light, as the beads of blood welled up to the surface.
  • As he thought the name, a single tear welled up and rolled down the Ursine's brown muzzle.
burst, issue, discharge;
spill, overflow, brim over
rare disembogue
1.1(Of an emotion) develop and become more intense: all the old bitterness began to well up inside her again
More example sentences
  • One could sense the drama welling up blocks away from the auditorium at Sacramento State.
  • He nodded and you could see confidence welling up inside him.
  • As the Birdwoman stood in front of the window admiring the dress, an urge started to well up inside her.


Old English wella, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch wel and German Welle 'a wave'.

  • The well meaning ‘in a good way’ and well ‘shaft giving access to water’ are different Old English words. The first provides the first half of welfare (Middle English). The start of welcome (Old English), on the other hand, is from another Old English element, wil- meaning ‘pleasure’—welcome originally meant ‘a person whose arrival is pleasing’. Wealth (Middle English) has a basic sense of ‘well-being’, being formed from well in the same way that health (Old English) is formed from hale ( see wassail). The title of Shakespeare's comedy All's Well that Ends Well was already an old saying when he wrote the play at the beginning of the 17th century. The first record of the proverb is as early as 1250. People have been well endowed only since the 1950s, but men could be well-hung in the early 17th century. At this time it meant ‘having large ears’ as well as ‘having a large penis’. The well you get water from is Old English wella ‘spring of water’, of Germanic origin, from a base meaning ‘boil, bubble up’,

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