Meaning of WELL in English



Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Note: 'Well' is used mainly in spoken English.

Please look at category 13 to see if the expression you are looking for is shown under another headword.


You say well to indicate that you are about to say something.

Well, I don’t like the look of that.

ADV : ADV cl


You say well to indicate that you intend or want to carry on speaking.

The trouble with City is that they do not have enough quality players. Well, that can easily be rectified.

ADV : ADV cl


You say well to indicate that you are changing the topic, and are either going back to something that was being discussed earlier or are going on to something new.

Well, let’s press on.

= anyway, so

ADV : ADV cl


You say well to indicate that you have reached the end of a conversation.

‘I’m sure you will be an asset,’ she finally added. ‘Well, I see it’s just about time for lunch.’...

ADV : ADV cl


You say well to make a suggestion, criticism, or correction seem less definite or rude.

Well, maybe it would be easier to start with a smaller problem...

Well, let’s wait and see...

ADV : ADV cl


You say well just before or after you pause, especially to give yourself time to think about what you are going to say.

Look, I’m really sorry I woke you, and, well, I just wanted to tell you I was all right.

ADV : ADV cl


You say well when you are correcting something that you have just said.

The comet is going to come back in 2061 and we are all going to be able to see it. Well, our offspring are, anyway...

ADV : ADV cl / group


You say well to express your doubt about something that someone has said.

‘But finance is far more serious.’—‘Well I don’t know really.’

ADV : ADV cl [ feelings ]


You say well to express your surprise or anger at something that someone has just said or done.

Well, honestly! They’re like an old married couple at times.

EXCLAM [ feelings ]


You say well to indicate that you are waiting for someone to say something and often to express your irritation with them.

‘Well?’ asked Barry, ‘what does it tell us?’...

‘Well, why don’t you ask me?’ he said finally.

= so

CONVENTION [ feelings ]


You use well to indicate that you are amused by something you have heard or seen, and often to introduce a comment on it.

Well, well, well, look at you. Ethel, look at this little fat girl...

CONVENTION [ feelings ]


You say oh well to indicate that you accept a situation or that someone else should accept it, even though you or they are not very happy about it, because it is not too bad and cannot be changed.

Oh well, it could be worse...

‘I called her and she said no.’—‘Oh well.’

CONVENTION [ feelings ]


very well: see very



( better, best)

Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.


If you do something well , you do it to a high standard or to a great extent.

All the Indian batsmen played well...

He speaks English better than I do...

It is a formula that worked very well indeed...

I don’t really know her very well.

ADV : ADV after v


If you do something well , you do it thoroughly and completely.

Mix all the ingredients well...

Wash your hands well with soap.

= thoroughly

ADV : ADV after v


If you speak or think well of someone, you say or think favourable things about them.

‘He speaks well of you.’—‘I’m glad to hear that.’...

It might help people think better of him.

ADV : ADV after v


Well is used in front of past participles to indicate that something is done to a high standard or to a great extent.

Helen is a very well-known novelist in Australia...

People live longer nowadays, and they are better educated...

British nurses were among the best trained in Europe.



You use well to ask or talk about the extent or standard of something.

How well do you remember your mother, Franzi?...

This new career doesn’t pay nearly as well as the old one...

He wasn’t dressed any better than me.

ADV : how ADV , as ADV as , ADV compar than


You use well in front of a prepositional phrase to emphasize it. For example, if you say that one thing happened well before another, you mean that it happened a long time before it.

Franklin did not turn up until well after midnight...

There are well over a million Muslims in Britain.

ADV : ADV prep [ emphasis ]


You use well before certain adjectives to emphasize them.

She has a close group of friends who are very well aware of what she has suffered...

The show is well worth a visit.

ADV : ADV adj [ emphasis ]


You use well after adverbs such as ‘perfectly’, ‘jolly’, or ‘damn’ in order to emphasize an opinion or the truth of what you are saying.

You know perfectly well I can’t be blamed for the failure of that mission...

I’d got myself into this marriage and I jolly well had to get myself out of it.

ADV : adv ADV , ADV with v [ emphasis ]


You use well after verbs such as ‘may’ and ‘could’ when you are saying what you think is likely to happen.

The murderer may well come from the estate...

Ours could well be the last generation for which moviegoing has a sense of magic.

ADV : modal ADV [ emphasis ]



Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

Please look at category 11 to see if the expression you are looking for is shown under another headword.


You use as well when mentioning something which happens in the same way as something else already mentioned, or which should be considered at the same time as that thing.

It is most often diagnosed in women in their thirties and forties, although I’ve seen it in many younger women, as well...

‘What do you like about it then?’—‘Erm, the history, the shops–people are quite friendly as well.’

= too



You use as well as when you want to mention another item connected with the subject you are discussing.

It is in his best interests as well as yours...

As well as a good academic record I look for people who’ve climbed mountains or been captain of a team.



If you say that something that has happened is just as well , you mean that it is fortunate that it happened in the way it did.

Judging from everything you’ve said, it was just as well she wasn’t there.

PHRASE : V inflects , oft it PHR that


You say it is as well to think or do something when you are advising someone to think in a particular way or to take a particular action.

It is as well to bear in mind that laughter is a great releaser of tension.

PHRASE : V inflects , PHR inf


If you say that someone would do well to do something, you mean that you advise or recommend that they do it.

He would do well to remember that, sooner or later, everyone’s luck runs out...

Investors would do well to take a look at the Swiss economy.



If you say that something, usually something bad, might as well be true or may as well be true, you mean that the situation is the same or almost the same as if it were true.

The couple might as well have been strangers...

We might just as well be in prison for all the quality our lives have at present.



If you say that you might as well do something, or that you may as well do it, you mean that you will do it although you do not have a strong desire to do it and may even feel slightly unwilling to do it.

If I’ve got to go somewhere I may as well go to Birmingham...

Anyway, you’re here; you might as well stay...

I’ll come with you if you like. I might as well.

PHRASE : usu PHR inf


If you say that something is all well and good , you are suggesting that it has faults or disadvantages, although it may appear to be correct or reasonable.

It’s all well and good for him to say he’s sorry for dropping you, but has he told you why he did it?

PHRASE : usu v-link PHR , oft PHR for n , PHR to-inf


You say well and good or all well and good to indicate that you would be pleased if something happens but you are aware that it has some disadvantages.

If they arrive before I leave, well and good. If not, the responsibility will be mine...

This is all well and good, but we have to look at the situation in the long term.

PHRASE : usu PHR with cl , v-link PHR , it v-link PHR to-inf / -ing


If you say that something is well and truly finished, gone, or done, you are emphasizing that it is completely finished or gone, or thoroughly done. ( mainly BRIT )

The war is well and truly over.

PHRASE : PHR group [ emphasis ]


all very well: see all

to know full well: see full

to mean well: see mean

pretty well: see pretty



Frequency: The word is one of the 700 most common words in English.

If you are well , you are healthy and not ill.

I’m not very well today, I can’t come in...

I hope you’re well.

≠ ill

ADJ : usu v-link ADJ



( wells)


A well is a hole in the ground from which a supply of water is extracted.

I had to fetch water from the well.



A well is an oil well.

About 650 wells are on fire.




( wells, welling, welled)


If liquids, for example tears, well , they come to the surface and form a pool.

Tears welled in her eyes...

He fell back, blood welling from a gash in his thigh.

VERB : V , V from n

Well up means the same as well .

Tears welled up in Anni’s eyes.



If an emotion wells in you, it suddenly becomes stronger, to the point where you have to express it.

Gratitude welled in Chryssa...

Her love for him welled stronger than ever.

VERB : V in/inside n , V

Well up means the same as well .

He could feel the anger welling up inside him...

Hope welled up.

= rise up

PHRASAL VERB : V P in/inside n , V P

Collins COBUILD Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Английский словарь Коллинз COBUILD для изучающих язык на продвинутом уровне.