I have a question about a sentence from an article of The Economist Magazine:

Britain’s Labour Party is in thrall to a man well to the left of Mr Sanders.

Does the word "well" in this sentence mean "to a great degree or extent"*?

Below is the paragraph where I encountered this sentence.

The United States is not the only country where the establishment is on the ropes. Britain’s Labour Party is in thrall to a man well to the left of Mr Sanders. In the first round of France’s recent regional elections, the far-right National Front won the largest vote. Populists are leading the polls in the Netherlands and running the government in Poland and Hungary. In politically correct Sweden, nativists are polling at 30%.

The whole article is available here: http://www.economist.com/node/21689543/print

Thanks a lot for everyone's help in advance. I really appreciate it.

*this is definition 3 of the adverb "well" from Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary.

  • Well is just being used as an intensifier, same as very, really, extremely. Compare informal BrE "He's well 'ard" (he's very "hard" = tough / aggressive). Commented May 10 at 10:10

1 Answer 1


Yes: "a man well to the left of Mr Sanders" pretty much means "a man who is to the left of Mr Sanders to a great degree or extent." "Well to the left" is a shorter way of saying this, and it sounds better. Using the adverb "well" here lets the writer avoid modifying one prepositional phrase with another; in this case, "to the left to a great extent" would even repeat the same preposition "to," which would have sounded bad.

  • Thank you so much for your help. I really appreciate it. Commented Feb 6, 2016 at 8:31

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