1 [bet-er]
adjective compar. of good with best as superl.
of superior quality or excellence: a better coat; a better speech.
morally superior; more virtuous: They are no better than thieves.
of superior suitability, advisability, desirability, acceptableness, etc.; preferable: a better time for action.
larger; greater: the better part of a lifetime.
improved in health; healthier than before.
completely recovered in health.
adverb compar. of well with best as superl.
in a more appropriate or acceptable way or manner: to behave better.
to a greater degree; more completely or thoroughly: He knows the way better than we do. I probably know him better than anyone else.
more: I walked better than a mile to town.
verb (used with object)
to increase the good qualities of; make better; improve: to better the lot of the suburban commuter.
to improve upon; surpass; exceed: We have bettered last year's production record.
Cards. to raise (a previous bid).
that which has greater excellence or is preferable or wiser: the better of two choices.
Usually, betters. those superior to one in wisdom, wealth, etc.
better off,
in better circumstances.
more fortunate; happier: Because of his asthma, he would be better off in a different climate.
better oneself, to improve one's social standing, financial position, or education: He is going to night school because he wants to better himself.
for the better, in a way that is an improvement: His health changed for the better.
get/have the better of,
to get an advantage over.
to prevail against.
go (someone) one better, to exceed the effort of; be superior to: The neighbors went us one better by buying two new cars.
had better, would be wiser or more well-advised to; ought to: We had better stay indoors today.
no better than one should be, Disparaging. morally inferior; immoral or amoral.
think better of,
to reconsider and decide more favorably or wisely regarding: I was tempted to make a sarcastic retort, but thought better of it.
to form a higher opinion of.

before 900; Middle English bettre, Old English bet(t)(e)ra; cognate with Old High German bezziro (German besser), Dutch beter, Old Norse betr, Gothic batiza, equivalent to bat- (cognate with Old High German baz (adv.) better; akin to boot2) + -iza comparative suffix; suggested relation to Sanskrit bhadrá- “fortunate” is doubtful. See best

unbettered, adjective

10. amend; advance, promote; reform, correct, rectify. See improve. Unabridged


2 [bet-er]

bet + -er1


adjective, better, best.
morally excellent; virtuous; righteous; pious: a good man.
satisfactory in quality, quantity, or degree: a good teacher; good health.
of high quality; excellent.
right; proper; fit: It is good that you are here. His credentials are good.
well-behaved: a good child.
kind, beneficent, or friendly: to do a good deed.
honorable or worthy; in good standing: a good name.
educated and refined: She has a good background.
financially sound or safe: His credit is good.
genuine; not counterfeit: a good quarter.
sound or valid: good judgment; good reasons.
reliable; dependable; responsible: good advice.
healthful; beneficial: Fresh fruit is good for you.
in excellent condition; healthy: good teeth.
not spoiled or tainted; edible; palatable: The meat was still good after three months in the freezer.
favorable; propitious: good news.
cheerful; optimistic; amiable: in good spirits.
free of distress or pain; comfortable: to feel good after surgery.
agreeable; pleasant: Have a good time.
attractive; handsome: She has a good figure.
(of the complexion) smooth; free from blemish.
close or intimate; warm: She's a good friend of mine.
sufficient or ample: a good supply.
advantageous; satisfactory for the purpose: a good day for fishing.
competent or skillful; clever: a good manager; good at arithmetic.
skillfully or expertly done: a really good job; a good play.
conforming to rules of grammar, usage, etc.; correct: good English.
socially proper: good manners.
remaining available to one: Don't throw good money after bad.
comparatively new or of relatively fine quality: Don't play in the mud in your good clothes.
finest or most dressy: He wore his good suit to the office today.
full: a good day's journey away.
fairly large or great: a good amount.
free from precipitation or cloudiness: good weather.
Medicine/Medical. (of a patient's condition) having stable and normal vital signs, being conscious and comfortable, and having excellent appetite, mobility, etc.
fertile; rich: good soil.
loyal: a good Democrat.
(of a return or service in tennis, squash, handball, etc.) landing within the limits of a court or section of a court.
Horse Racing. (of the surface of a track) drying after a rain so as to be still slightly sticky: This horse runs best on a good track.
(of meat, especially beef) noting or pertaining to the specific grade below “choice,” containing more lean muscle and less edible fat than “prime” or “choice.”
favorably regarded (used as an epithet for a ship, town, etc.): the good ship Syrena.
profit or advantage; worth; benefit: What good will that do? We shall work for the common good.
excellence or merit; kindness: to do good.
moral righteousness; virtue: to be a power for good.
(especially in the grading of U.S. beef) an official grade below that of “choice.”
possessions, especially movable effects or personal property.
articles of trade; wares; merchandise: canned goods.
Informal. what has been promised or is expected: to deliver the goods.
Informal. the genuine article.
Informal. evidence of guilt, as stolen articles: to catch someone with the goods.
cloth or textile material: top-quality linen goods.
Chiefly British. merchandise sent by land, rather than by water or air.
the good.
the ideal of goodness or morality.
good things or persons collectively.
(used as an expression of approval or satisfaction): Good! Now we can all go home.
Informal. well.
as good as. as1 ( def 20 ).
come to no good, to end in failure or as a failure: Her jealous relatives said that she would come to no good.
for good, finally and permanently; forever: to leave the country for good. Also, for good and all.
good and, Informal. very; completely; exceedingly: This soup is good and hot.
good for,
certain to repay (money owed) because of integrity, financial stability, etc.
the equivalent in value of: Two thousand stamps are good for one coffeepot.
able to survive or continue functioning for (the length of time or the distance indicated): These tires are good for another 10,000 miles.
valid or in effect for (the length of time indicated): a license good for one year.
(used as an expression of approval): Good for you!
good full, Nautical. (of a sail or sails) well filled, especially when sailing close to the wind; clean full; rap full.
make good,
to make recompense for; repay.
to implement an agreement; fulfill.
to be successful.
to substantiate; verify.
to carry out; accomplish; execute: The convicts made good their getaway.
no good, without value or merit; worthless; contemptible: The check was no good.
to the good,
generally advantageous: That's all to the good, but what do I get out of it?
richer in profit or gain: When he withdrew from the partnership, he was several thousand dollars to the good.

before 900; Middle English (adj., adv., and noun); Old English gōd (adj.); cognate with Dutch goed, German gut, Old Norse gōthr, Gothic goths

quasi-good, adjective

good, well (see usage note at the current entry).

1. pure, moral, conscientious, meritorious, worthy, exemplary, upright. 2. commendable, admirable. 5. obedient, heedful. 6. kindly, benevolent, humane, gracious, obliging. 23. full, adequate. 24. profitable, useful, serviceable, beneficial. 25. efficient, proficient, capable, able, ready, suited, suitable, dexterous, expert, adroit, apt. 46. See property.

Good is common as an adverb in informal speech, especially after forms of do: He did good on the test. She sees good with her new glasses. This use does not occur in formal speech or edited writing, where the adverb well is used instead: He did well on the test. She sees well with her new glasses.
The adjective good is standard after linking verbs like taste, smell, look, feel, be, and seem: Everything tastes good. The biscuits smell good. You're looking good today. When used after look or feel, good may refer to spirits as well as health: I'm feeling pretty good this morning, ready to take on the world. Well is both an adjective and an adverb. As an adjective used after look, feel, or other linking verbs, it often refers to good health: You're looking well; we missed you while you were in the hospital. See also bad.


1 [wel]
in a good or satisfactory manner: Business is going well.
thoroughly, carefully, or soundly: to shake well before using; listen well.
in a moral or proper manner: to behave well.
commendably, meritoriously, or excellently: a difficult task well done.
with propriety, justice, or reason: I could not well refuse.
adequately or sufficiently: Think well before you act.
to a considerable extent or degree (often used in combination): a sum well over the amount agreed upon; a well-developed theme.
with great or intimate knowledge: to know a person well.
certainly; without doubt: I anger easily, as you well know.
with good nature; without rancor: He took the joke well.
adjective, comparative better, superlative best.
in good health; sound in body and mind: Are you well? He is not a well man.
satisfactory, pleasing, or good: All is well with us.
proper, fitting, or gratifying: It is well that you didn't go.
in a satisfactory position; well-off: I am very well as I am.
(used to express surprise, reproof, etc.): Well! There's no need to shout.
(used to introduce a sentence, resume a conversation, etc.): Well, who would have thought he could do it?
well-being; good fortune; success: to wish well to someone.
as well,
in addition; also; too: She insisted on directing the play and on producing it as well.
equally: The town grew as well because of its location as because of its superb climate.
as well as, as much or as truly as; equally as: Joan is witty as well as intelligent.
leave well enough alone, avoid changing something that is satisfactory.

before 900; Middle English, Old English wel(l) (adj. and adv.); cognate with Dutch wel, German wohl, Old Norse vel, Gothic waila

3. properly, correctly. 4. skillfully, adeptly, accurately, efficiently. 5. suitably. 6. fully, amply. 7. rather, quite. 11. healthy, hale, hearty. 12. fine. 13. suitable, befitting, appropriate. 14. fortunate, happy.

3. poorly, badly. 11. ill, sick.

See good.

Sometimes an adverb like well is so often placed in front of and combined with a certain past participle in order to modify it that the resulting adjectival combination achieves the status of a common word and is listed in dictionaries. In you will find, for example, entries for well-advised, well-loved, and well-mannered; for ill-advised, ill-bred, and ill-conceived; and for half-baked, half-cocked, and half-hearted. Some of these terms are given full definitions, while others are considered such obvious combinations that you can figure out for yourself what they must mean and so they are simply listed. It is important to note, however, that compound adjectives like these are hyphenated for use before the noun they modify together. Thus we say that someone is “a well-loved professor,” but there would be no hyphen between well and loved in a sentence like “My English professor is well loved and deserves the award.”
In a similar manner, adjectival compounds formed with better, best, little, lesser, least, etc., are also hyphenated when placed before the noun (a little-understood theory), but the hyphen is dropped when the adjectival combination follows the noun (his films are best known in England) or is itself modified by an adverb (a too little understood theory).
There are exceptions to this pattern. For example, when the combining adverb ends in –ly, no hyphen is required, whether the resulting adjectival combination appears before or after the noun: a highly regarded surgeon; a surgeon who is highly regarded.
Don’t let the hyphens fool you. Punctuation can be tricky!


2 [wel]
a hole drilled or bored into the earth to obtain water, petroleum, natural gas, brine, or sulfur.
a spring or natural source of water.
an apparent reservoir or a source of human feelings, emotions, energy, etc.: He was a well of gentleness and courtesy.
a container, receptacle, or reservoir for a liquid: the well of ink in a fountain pen.
any sunken or deep, enclosed space, as a shaft for air or light, stairs, or an elevator, extending vertically through the floors of a building.
a part of a weather deck between two superstructures, extending from one side of a vessel to the other.
a compartment or enclosure around a ship's pumps to make them easily accessible and protect them from being damaged by the cargo.
a hollow compartment, recessed area, or depression for holding a specific item or items, as fish in the bottom of a boat or the retracted wheels of an airplane in flight.
any shaft dug or bored into the earth, as for storage space or a mine.
verb (used without object)
to rise, spring, or gush, as water, from the earth or some other source (often followed by up, out, or forth ): Tears welled up in my eyes.
verb (used with object)
to send welling up or forth: a fountain welling its pure water.
like, of, resembling, from, or used in connection with a well.

before 900; (noun) Middle English well(e), Old English wylle, wella, welle; cognate with German Welle wave; (v.) Middle English wellen, Old English wellan (cognate with Dutch wellen, Old Norse vella); both noun and v. ultimately akin to weallan to boil

3. store, fund, mine, fount. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To better
World English Dictionary
better1 (ˈbɛtə)
1.  the comparative of good
2.  more excellent than other members of a particular group, category, etc
3.  more suitable, advantageous, attractive, etc
4.  improved in health
5.  fully recovered in health
6.  in more favourable circumstances, esp financially
7.  better off in more favourable circumstances, esp financially
8.  the better part of a large part of: the better part of a day
9.  the comparative of well
10.  in a more excellent manner; more advantageously, attractively, etc
11.  in or to a greater degree or extent; more: she is better loved than her sister
12.  (Brit intr; US tr) go one better to outdo (a person) or improve upon (someone else's effort)
13.  had better would be wise, sensible, etc to: I had better be off
14.  know better than to not to be so stupid as to
15.  think better of
 a.  to change one's course of action after reconsideration
 b.  to rate (a person) more highly
16.  the better something that is the more excellent, useful, etc, of two such things
17.  (usually plural) a person who is superior, esp in social standing or ability
18.  all the better for improved as a result of
19.  all the better to more suitable to
20.  for better for worse whatever the subsequent events or changes may be
21.  for the better by way of improvement: a change for the better
22.  get the better of to defeat, outwit, or surpass
23.  (Irish) the better of having recovered from: I'm not the better of it yet
24.  to make or become better
25.  (tr) to improve upon; surpass
[Old English betera; related to Old Norse betri, Gothic batiza, Old High German beziro]

better or esp (US) bettor2 (ˈbɛtə)
a person who bets
bettor or esp (US) bettor2

good (ɡʊd)
adj , better, best
1.  having admirable, pleasing, superior, or positive qualities; not negative, bad or mediocre: a good idea; a good teacher
2.  a.  morally excellent or admirable; virtuous; righteous: a good man
 b.  (as collective noun; preceded by the): the good
3.  suitable or efficient for a purpose: a good secretary; a good winter coat
4.  beneficial or advantageous: vegetables are good for you
5.  not ruined or decayed; sound or whole: the meat is still good
6.  kindly, generous, or approving: you are good to him
7.  right or acceptable: your qualifications are good for the job
8.  rich and fertile: good land
9.  valid or genuine: I would not do this without good reason
10.  honourable or held in high esteem: a good family
11.  commercially or financially secure, sound, or safe: good securities; a good investment
12.  (of a draft) drawn for a stated sum
13.  (of debts) expected to be fully paid
14.  clever, competent, or talented: he's good at science
15.  obedient or well-behaved: a good dog
16.  reliable, safe, or recommended: a good make of clothes
17.  affording material pleasure or indulgence: the good things in life; the good life
18.  having a well-proportioned, beautiful, or generally fine appearance: a good figure; a good complexion
19.  complete; full: I took a good look round the house
20.  propitious; opportune: a good time to ask the manager for a rise
21.  satisfying or gratifying: a good rest
22.  comfortable: did you have a good night?
23.  newest or of the best quality: to keep the good plates for important guests
24.  fairly large, extensive, or long: a good distance away
25.  sufficient; ample: we have a good supply of food
26.  (US) (of meat) of the third government grade, above standard and below choice
27.  serious or intellectual: good music
28.  used in a traditional description: the good ship ``America''
29.  used in polite or patronizing phrases or to express anger (often intended ironically): how is your good lady?; look here, my good man!
30.  a good one
 a.  an unbelievable assertion
 b.  a very funny joke
31.  as good as virtually; practically: it's as good as finished
32.  as good as gold excellent; very good indeed
33.  be as good as to, be so good as to would you please
34.  come good to recover and perform well after a bad start or setback
35.  informal good and (intensifier): good and mad
36.  (intensifier; used in mild oaths): good grief!; good heavens!
37.  an exclamation of approval, agreement, pleasure, etc
38.  moral or material advantage or use; benefit or profit: for the good of our workers; what is the good of worrying?
39.  positive moral qualities; goodness; virtue; righteousness; piety
40.  (sometimes capital) moral qualities seen as a single abstract entity: we must pursue the Good
41.  a good thing
42.  economics a commodity or service that satisfies a human need
43.  for good, for good and all forever; permanently: I have left them for good
44.  make good
 a.  to recompense or repair damage or injury
 b.  to be successful
 c.  to demonstrate or prove the truth of (a statement or accusation)
 d.  to secure and retain (a position)
 e.  to effect or fulfil (something intended or promised)
45.  good on you, good for you well done, well said, etc: a term of congratulation
46.  (Irish) get any good of, get some good of
 a.  to handle to good effect: I never got any good of this machine
 b.  to understand properly: I could never get any good of him
 c.  to receive cooperation from
[Old English gōd; related to Old Norse gōthr, Old High German guot good]

well1 (wɛl)
adv (preceded by could, might, or may) (preceded by may or might) , better, best
1.  (often used in combination) in a satisfactory manner: the party went very well
2.  (often used in combination) in a good, skilful, or pleasing manner: she plays the violin well
3.  in a correct or careful manner: listen well to my words
4.  in a comfortable or prosperous manner: to live well
5.  (usually used with auxiliaries) suitably; fittingly: you can't very well say that
6.  intimately: I knew him well
7.  in a kind or favourable manner: she speaks well of you
8.  to a great or considerable extent; fully: to be well informed
9.  by a considerable margin: let me know well in advance
10.  indeed: you may well have to do it yourself
11.  informal (intensifier): well safe
12.  all very well used ironically to express discontent, dissent, etc
13.  as well
 a.  in addition; too
 b.  with equal effect: you might as well come
 c.  just as well preferable or advisable: it would be just as well if you paid me now
14.  as well as in addition to
15.  just leave well alone, just leave well enough alone to refrain from interfering with something that is satisfactory
16.  well and good used to indicate calm acceptance, as of a decision: if you accept my offer, well and good
17.  well up in well acquainted with (a particular subject); knowledgeable about
18.  (when prenominal, usually used with a negative) in good health: I'm very well, thank you; he's not a well man
19.  satisfactory, agreeable, or pleasing
20.  prudent; advisable: it would be well to make no comment
21.  prosperous or comfortable
22.  fortunate or happy: it is well that you agreed to go
23.  a.  an expression of surprise, indignation, or reproof
 b.  an expression of anticipation in waiting for an answer or remark
sentence connector
24.  an expression used to preface a remark, gain time, etc: well, I don't think I will come
[Old English wel; related to Old High German wala, wola (German wohl), Old Norse val, Gothic waila]

well2 (wɛl)
1.  a hole or shaft that is excavated, drilled, bored, or cut into the earth so as to tap a supply of water, oil, gas, etc
2.  a natural pool where ground water comes to the surface
3.  a.  a cavity, space, or vessel used to contain a liquid
 b.  (in combination): an inkwell
4.  an open shaft through the floors of a building, such as one used for a staircase
5.  a deep enclosed space in a building or between buildings that is open to the sky to permit light and air to enter
6.  a.  a bulkheaded compartment built around a ship's pumps for protection and ease of access
 b.  another word for cockpit
7.  a perforated tank in the hold of a fishing boat for keeping caught fish alive
8.  (in England) the open space in the centre of a law court
9.  a source, esp one that provides a continuous supply: he is a well of knowledge
10.  to flow or cause to flow upwards or outwards: tears welled from her eyes
[Old English wella; related to Old High German wella (German Welle wave), Old Norse vella boiling heat]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"in a satisfactory manner," O.E. wel, common Gmc. (cf. O.S. wela, O.N. vel, O.Fris. wel, Du. wel, O.H.G. wela, Ger. wohl, Goth. waila "well"), from PIE *wel-, *wol- (cf. Skt. prati varam "at will," O.C.S. vole "well," Welsh gwell "better," L. velle "to wish, will," O.E. willan "to wish;" see
will (v.)). Also used as an interjection and an expression of surprise in O.E. Well-to-do "prosperous" is recorded from 1825.

"to spring, rise, gush," O.E. wiellan (Anglian wællan), causative of weallan "to boil, bubble up" (class VII strong verb; past tense weoll, pp. weallen), from P.Gmc. *wal-, *wel- "roll" (cf. O.S. wallan, O.N. vella, O.Fris. walla, O.H.G. wallan, Ger. wallen, Goth. wulan "to bubble, boil"), from
PIE base *wel- "to turn, roll" (see vulva), on notion of "roiling or bubbling water."

O.E. god (with a long "o") "having the right or desirable quality," from P.Gmc. *gothaz (cf. O.N. goðr, Du. goed, Ger. gut, Goth. goþs), originally "fit, adequate, belonging together," from PIE base *ghedh- "to unite, be associated, suitable" (cf. O.C.S. godu "pleasing time," Rus. godnyi "fit,
suitable," O.E. gædrian "to gather, to take up together"). Irregular comparatives (better, best) reflect a widespread pattern, cf. L. bonus, melior, optimus. First record of good day is from c.1200. Goods "property" first recorded late 13c., but singular in the same sense was in O.E. The good neighbours is Scot. euphemism for "the fairies" (1580s). Good-for-nothing is from 1711; good-looking is from 1780; good-natured first recorded 1570s. Good sport is from 1917; good to go is attested from 1989.

O.E. betera (see best), from P.Gmc. *batizo-, from PIE *bhad- "good." Comparative adj. of good in the older Gmc. languages (cf. O.N. betr, Dan. bedre, Ger. besser, Goth. batiza). Superseded bet in the adverbial sense by 1600. Better half "wife" is
first attested 1570s; to get the better of (someone) is from mid-15c.

"hole dug for water, spring of water," O.E. wielle (W.Saxon), welle (Anglian), from wiellan (see well (v.)).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
well   (wěl)  Pronunciation Key 
A deep hole or shaft sunk into the Earth to tap a liquid or gaseous substance such as water, oil, gas, or brine. If the substance is not under sufficient pressure to flow freely from the well, it must be pumped or raised mechanically to the surface. Water or pressurized gas is sometimes pumped into a nonproducing oil well to push petroleum resources out of underground reservoirs. See also artesian well.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Bible Dictionary

Well definition

(Heb. beer), to be distinguished from a fountain (Heb. 'ain). A "beer" was a deep shaft, bored far under the rocky surface by the art of man, which contained water which percolated through the strata in its sides. Such wells were those of Jacob and Beersheba, etc. (see Gen. 21:19, 25, 30, 31; 24:11; 26:15, 18-25, 32, etc.). In the Pentateuch this word beer, so rendered, occurs twenty-five times.

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


In addition to the idioms beginning with better, also see against one's better judgment; all better; all the better; discretion is the better part of valor; for better or for worse; get better; get the better (best) of; go one better; had better (best); know better; seen better days; so much the better; sooner the better; take a turn for the better; think better of; you'd better believe it. Also see under best.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
And six months later, three-quarters of those tested had maintained or improved
  their better sleep patterns.
The health-care industry is using games to encourage better choices.
To do that requires more than simply larger sample sizes or improved genomic
  techniques, it also requires better measurement.
It gets better, or so they say.
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