Meaning of WELL in English

I. well 1 S1 W1 /wel/ BrE AmE adverb ( comparative better /ˈbetə $ -ər/, superlative best /best/)

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: wel ]

1 . SATISFACTORILY in a successful or satisfactory way:

Did you sleep well?

James reads quite well for his age.

All the team played very well today.

Simon doesn’t work well under pressure.

The festival was very well organized.

The concert went very well.

2 . THOROUGHLY in a thorough way:

Mix the flour and butter well.

I know Birmingham quite well.

3 . A LOT

a) a lot, or to a great degree

well before/after/above/below etc

Stand well back from the bonfire.

It was well after 12 o'clock when they arrived.

The village is well below sea level.

The amphitheatre is well worth a visit.

I’m well aware of the problems involved.

I went out and got well and truly (=completely) drunk.

b) [+ adjective] British English informal very:

That was well funny!

4 . do well

a) to be successful, especially in work or business:

He’s doing very well at college.

Elizabeth’s done well for herself since she moved to London.

b) if someone who has been ill is doing well, they are becoming healthy again:

He had the operation yesterday, and he’s doing very well.

5 . as well in addition to something or someone else:

Why don’t you come along as well?


As well is used mostly in spoken English. In written English, people usually prefer to use also :

Parents are also welcome.

6 . as well as something/somebody in addition to something or someone else:

They own a house in France as well as a villa in Spain.

as well as doing something

The organization gives help and support to people in need, as well as raising money for local charities.

7 . may/might/could well used to say that something is likely to happen or is likely to be true:

What you say may well be true.

You could try the drugstore, but it might well be closed by now.

8 . may/might/could (just) as well

a) informal used when you do not particularly want to do something but you decide you should do it:

I suppose we may as well get started.

b) used to mean that another course of action would have an equally good result:

The taxi was so slow we might just as well have gone on the bus.

9 . can’t very well (do something) used to say that you cannot do something because it would be unacceptable:

I can’t very well tell him we don’t want him at the party!

10 . know full/perfectly well used to say that someone does know something even though they are behaving as if they do not:

You know full well what I mean.

11 . speak/think well of somebody to talk about someone in an approving way or to have a favourable opinion of them:

Sue has always spoken well of you.

12 . well done!/well played! spoken used to praise someone when you think they have done something very well

13 . well said! spoken used to say that you agree with what someone has just said, or that you admire them for saying it

14 . be well away British English informal

a) to be making good progress:

If we can get that grant from the local authority, we’ll be well away.

b) to be very drunk

15 . be well in with somebody informal to have a friendly relationship with someone, especially someone important:

She’s very well in with members of the management committee.

16 . be well out of something British English spoken to be lucky to no longer be involved in a particular situation

17 . be well up in/on something informal especially British English to know a lot about a particular subject:

Geoff’s always been well up on the lnternet.

18 . as well somebody might/may formal used to say that there is a good reason for someone’s feelings or reactions:

Marilyn looked guilty, as well she might.

19 . do well by somebody informal to treat someone generously

• • •

COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 3)

■ prep/adj

▪ well before

She’s been up since well before dawn.

▪ well after

It was well after ten o'clock when we arrived.

▪ well above

The school’s performance was well above average.

▪ well below

They earn well below $5 an hour.

▪ well short of

This total falls well short of the sum required.

▪ well back

Stand well back from the edge of the platform.

▪ well worth

The book is well worth reading.

▪ well aware

I am well aware of the risks involved.

▪ well able/capable

She is well able to look after herself.

▪ well underway

The work on the extension is well underway.

II. well 2 S1 W1 BrE AmE interjection

1 . EMPHASIZING SOMETHING used to emphasize something you are saying:

Well, I think it’s a good idea anyway.

Well, I’ve had enough and I’m going home!

‘James doesn’t want to come to the cinema with us.’ ‘Well then, let’s go on our own.’

2 . PAUSING used to pause or give yourself time to think before saying something:

Well, let’s see now, I could meet you on Thursday.

3 . ACCEPTING A SITUATION ( also oh well ) used to show that you accept a situation even though you feel disappointed or annoyed about it:

Well, I did my best – I can’t do any more than that.

Oh well, we’ll just have to cancel the holiday, I suppose.

4 . SHOWING SURPRISE ( also well, well, (well) ) used to express surprise or amusement:

Well, so Steve got the job?

Well, well, well, I didn’t think I’d see you here.

5 . SHOWING ANGER used to express anger or disapproval:

Well, she could at least have phoned to say she wasn’t coming!

6 . FINAL REMARK used to show that you are about to finish speaking or doing something:

Well, that’s all for today.

Well, that’s the last one done.

7 . EXPRESSING DOUBT used to show that you are not sure about something:

‘Will you be in on Friday evening?’ ‘Well, it depends.’

8 . CHANGING SOMETHING used to slightly change something that you have said:

He’s rolling in money! Well, he’s got a lot more than me, anyway.

9 . AGREEING very well formal used to show that you agree with an idea or accept a suggestion:

‘Very well,’ he said. ‘I accept.’

10 . CONTINUING A STORY used to continue a story you are telling people, especially in order to make it seem more interesting:

You know that couple I was telling you about the other day? Well, last night I saw a police car in front of their house!

11 . ASKING A QUESTION Well? used to ask someone to answer a question you have asked them, when you are angry with them:

Well? What have you got to say for yourself?

III. well 3 S1 W2 BrE AmE adjective ( comparative better , superlative best )

1 . healthy:

‘How are you?’ ‘Very well, thanks.’

I don’t feel very well.

You’re looking very well.

I hope you get well again soon.

2 . it’s just as well (that) spoken used to say that things have happened in a good or fortunate way:

It’s just as well I kept some money aside for emergencies.

3 . it’s/that’s all very well, but ... spoken used to say that something seems to be a good idea, but is not really possible or helpful:

It’s all very well the doctors telling me I’ve got to rest, but who’s going to look after my children?

4 . that’s/it’s all well and good spoken especially British English used to say that something is good or enjoyable, but it also has some disadvantages:

Going off on foreign holidays is all well and good, but you’ve got to get back to reality sometime.

5 . it might/would be as well spoken used to give someone advice or make a helpful suggestion:

It might be as well to make him rest for a few days.

6 . all is well/all is not well formal used to say that a situation is satisfactory or not satisfactory:

All is not well with their marriage.

7 . all’s well that ends well used to say that a difficult situation has ended with a good result. It is the title of a humorous play by William Shakespeare about the relationship between the two main characters, Helena and Bertram.

• • •


▪ healthy having good health:

A good diet keeps you healthy.


They tested the drug on healthy volunteers.

▪ well used especially when describing or asking about how someone feels or looks:

I don’t feel well.


How was James – did he look well?

▪ fine spoken used in a reply to a question about your health, or when talking about someone else’s health. Use fine only in replies, not in questions or statements:

‘Hi, Tom, how are you?’ ‘Fine, thanks.’


She had a bad cold, but she’s fine now.

▪ all right/OK spoken not ill or injured. These expressions are very commonly used in everyday spoken English:

You look pale – are you feeling all right?


He’s had an accident but he’s OK.

▪ better less ill than you were, or no longer ill:

I’m feeling a lot better now.


Don’t come back to school until you’re better.

▪ fit healthy, especially because you exercise regularly:

She keeps fit by cycling everywhere.


Police officers have to be physically fit and have good eyesight.

▪ in (good) shape healthy and fit:

Jogging keeps me in pretty good shape.

▪ robust literary healthy and strong, and not likely to become ill:

He had a robust constitution (=a strong and healthy body) .


robust plants


a robust girl, wearing a thick woollen sweater

▪ be/look a picture of health to look very healthy:

She looked a picture of health as she posed for the cameras.

IV. well 4 BrE AmE noun [countable]

[ Language: Old English ; Origin: welle ]

1 . a deep hole in the ground from which people take water:

She lowered her bucket into the well.

2 . an ↑ oil well

3 . the space in a tall building where the stairs are

V. well 5 BrE AmE ( also well up ) verb [intransitive] literary

[ Date: 1300-1400 ; Origin: well 'to cause to boil' (11-15 centuries) , from Old English wellan ]

1 . if a liquid wells or wells up, it comes to the surface of something and starts to flow out:

I felt tears well up in my eyes.

2 . if a feeling wells or wells up in you, you start to feel it strongly:

Anger welled up within him.

Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English.      Longman - Словарь современного английского языка.