Meaning of “well” in the English Dictionary

"well" in British English

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uk /wel/ us /wel/ better, best

well adverb (IN A GOOD WAY)

A1 in a good way, to a high or satisfactory standard:

The documentary presented both sides of the problem very well.
The concert was advertised well enough but ticket sales were poor.
a well-cut suit
a well-paid job
Her points were well put (= expressed in a good or intelligent way).
His point about the need to reduce waste was well taken (= it was accepted as a good criticism).
They took two hours to discuss the plans and considered it time well spent (= it had been a useful discussion).
I can't do it as well as Marie can.

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well adverb (TO A GREAT DEGREE)

A2 very much, to a great degree, or completely:

Knead the dough well, then divide it into four pieces.
He could well imagine how much his promise was going to cost him.
I can't catch the bus - there are no buses after midnight, as you well know.
He plays the piano well enough (= to a satisfactory standard).

C1 used to emphasize some prepositions:

The results are well above/below what we expected.
Keep well away from the edge of the cliff.
It cost well over £100.
Stand well clear of the doors!

B2 used to emphasize some adjectives:

The police are well aware of the situation.
The museum is well worth a visit.
Some machines look more like cheap, plastic toys - leave these well alone.

UK slang very:

The film was well good.
Watch out for those two - they're well hard (= strong and willing to use violence).

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well adverb (REASONABLY)

B2 with good reason:

She might well be the best person to ask.
I can't very well (= it would not be acceptable to) refuse their generous offer.

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well adverb (IN ADDITION)

as well (as)

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A1 in addition (to):

Invite Emily - and Scott as well.
I want to visit Andrew as well as Martin.


welladjective [ usually after verb ]

uk /wel/ us /wel/ better, best


uk /wel/ us /wel/

A1 used to introduce something you are going to say, often to show surprise, doubt, slight disagreement, or anger, or to continue a story:

Well, what shall we do now?
Well now/then, how are we going to arrange things?
"Who was that?" "Well, I can't remember her name."
"He's decided to give up his job and move to Seattle with her." "Well, well - that's what love does for you."
Well, really, that was thoughtless of him!
Well? What did you do next?
Well, after that we went camping in the mountains.
Well/Oh well, it doesn't matter - I can always buy another one.
Very well, if you insist I'll meet him next week.

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  • Well now, what are we doing about that?
  • Oh well, never mind.
  • Well, well. Who'd have thought things would turn out like this.
  • Well? How did your exam go?
  • Well really! How rude!

wellnoun [ C ]

uk /wel/ us /wel/

a deep hole in the ground from which you can get water, oil, or gas

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wellverb [ I usually + adv/prep ]

uk /wel/ us /wel/

(of liquid) to appear on the surface of something or come slowly out from somewhere:

Dirty water welled (up) out of the damaged pipe.
As she read the letter tears welled up in her eyes.
figurative Conflicting emotions welled up in his heart.


uk strong /wiːl/ weak /wil/ us strong /wiːl/ weak /wil/

short form of we will:

We'll do better next time, I'm sure.

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(Definition of “well” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"well" in American English

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us /wel/ comparative better, superlative best

well adjective (HEALTHY)


I don’t feel well.
I feel better now.



us /wel/

well adverb (IN A GOOD WAY)

comparative better /ˈbet̬·ər/ , superlative best /best/ in a good way; to a high or satisfactory standard:

The car was well designed.
She manages people very well.
I can’t sing as well as Jessica (= She sings better).
His point about reducing waste is well taken (= accepted as a fair criticism).
The two hours of discussion was time well spent (= it was a useful discussion).
I want to congratulate you on a job well done.

well adverb (TO A GREAT DEGREE)

comparative better /ˈbet̬·ər/ , superlative best /best/ to a great degree; much or completely:

I know her well.
Put in two eggs and stir well.
He sent away for tickets well in advance (= very early).
I knew perfectly well what time it was.
I knew her pretty well when I lived in Iowa City.

comparative better /ˈbet̬·ər/ , superlative best /best/ Well is used with some prepositions and adverbs for emphasis:

Keep the children well away from the edge of the pool.
It costs well over $100.

comparative better /ˈbet̬·ər/ , superlative best /best/ Well is used with a few adjectives for emphasis:

The museum is well worth a visit.

well adverb (REASONABLY)

[ not gradable ] with good reason:

I couldn’t very well say no.

wellnoun [ C ]

us /wel/

well noun [ C ] (HOLE)

a deep hole in the ground from which water, oil, or gas can be obtained:

an oil well
well water

wellverb [ I ]

us /wel/

well verb [ I ] (COME TO SURFACE)

(of a liquid) to come to the surface or into view:

As she read the letter, tears welled in her eyes.
fig. He could feel the anger well up inside him.


us /wel, wəl/

well exclamation (EXCLAMATION)

used to introduce something you are about to say, or to connect one statement with the next, or to show doubt or disagreement, annoyance, surprise, or understanding:

Well, what happened next?
He started yelling at me, and well, I was scared at first.
Well, what are you going to do now that you’ve lost your job?
Oh well, there’s not much we can do about it now.


us /wil, wɪl/

contraction of we shall or we will:

We’ll be there tomorrow.

(Definition of “well” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"well" in Business English

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wellnoun [ C ]

uk /wel/ us

NATURAL RESOURCES a deep hole in the ground from which you can get water:

These two tributaries of the Yellowstone River supply water for farms and wells in two states.
It is an 8-mile round trip to fetch clean water from a well.


(Definition of “well” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)