Thursday, February 24, 2005

Well, why not the OED?

This is another followup to my post on the word well. As you'd expect, the OED, Christopher Ricks' favorite reference work, has much to say about the word well. Here are just few interesting examples:

Used to denote a state of good fortune, welfare, or happiness:
1310 in Wright Lyric P. xviii. 59
Suete Jhesu, wel may him be, That the may in blisse se!
1400 Destr. Troy 477 Well were that woman might weld hym for euer.
1489 CAXTON Sonnes of Aymon xxiv. 528
Now wold I be well in my ship in the myddes of the see, for if I abyde him, he shall make an ende of me.

Used to denote a person in favour, in good standing or estimation, on good terms, with (another person).
c1450 Godstow Reg. 26
She was fayre and comly, and well was with the kyng almyhty.

On terms of intimate friendship or familiarity with (a woman).
1784 R. BAGE Barham Downs I. 91
You must know Sir, I have the honour to be well with Mrs. Gadbury, Lady Conollan's woman.

Pleased or satisfied with (oneself). Also well to do.
1865 'ANNIE THOMAS' On Guard I. iv. 61
His horses..rattled over the a rate he would not have driven them had he been well with himself just then.

In a state of prosperity or affluence; more explicitly well in goods or cash, well in the world.
1606 DEKKER Sev. Sinnes v. (Arb.) 36
Richmens sonnes that were left well, and had more money giuen by will, then they had wit how to bestow it.

Well and warm: in comfortable and affluent circumstances.
571 CAMPION Hist. Irel. II. ix. (1633) 114
But you are well and warme and so hold you.

Favourably circumstanced; having things as one wishes them to be.
1440 Partonope 5281
When wymmen be well they can not cese.
1598 SHAKES. Merry W. I. i. 278
An. Wil't please your worship to come in, Sir? Sl. No, I thank you forsooth, hartely; I am very well.

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