well-

Definitions

General English

  • adverb
    (written as well)
    in a way that is satisfactory
  • interjection
    (written as well)
    used for starting a sentence
  • noun
    (written as well)
    a very deep hole dug in the ground with water or oil at the bottom
  • prefix in a satisfactory way

Agriculture

  • noun
    (written as well)
    a hole dug in the ground to the level of the water table, from which water can be removed by a pump or bucket

Construction

  • (written as well)
    Any enclosed space of considerable height, such as an air shaft or the space around which a stair winds.
  • (written as well)
    A correction device for ground water.
  • (written as well)
    A wall around a tree trunk to hold back soil.
  • (written as well)
    A slot in a machine or device into which a part fits.

Medical

  • adjective
    (written as well)
    healthy

Military

  • noun
    (written as well)
    a man-made hole in the ground from which water is obtained

Slang

  • adverb
    (written as well)
    very. A vogue usage among adolescents and younger schoolchildren since about 1987, from the slang of the streets (used by black youth and some white working-class adults) of the earlier 1980s. Typical instances of the word as an intensifier are ‘well good’ and ‘well hard’.

Travel

  • prefix in a good way

Origin & History of “well-”

English has two distinct words well, both of ancient ancestry. The adverb, ‘satisfactorily’ (OE), has relatives throughout the Germanic languages (German wohl, Dutch wel, Swedish väl, and Danish vel), and probably goes back ultimately to the Indo-European base *wel-, *wol-, which also gave English voluntary, wealth, and will. It was not used as an adjective until the 13th century. Well ‘water-hole’ (OE) is descended from the Germanic base *wal-, *wel- ‘roll’ (source also of English wallet, wallow, waltz, welter, etc), and so etymologically denotes a place where water ‘bubbles’ up. this original notion of turbulent overflowing liquid is better preserved in the related verb well ‘gush’ (OE), which to begin with meant ‘boil’, and hence ‘melt metal’ (‘He made him drink welled lead’, Holy Rood 1300), and produced English weld.
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