Is there a word that means "more well", in the same way that "better" means "more good"? In common parlance most people just use "better" for this purpose, but this sounds wrong and is a nagging irritation for me. "Better" is an adjective while "well" is an adverb, and so they're strictly incompatible in how they can be used.

I realise there isn't a commonly used word for this but I'm interested to know if there's something archaic that and has fallen into disuse.

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    Strictly speaking, better is fine for "more well", because it is not only an adjective, but an adverb too: dictionary.reference.com/browse/better. So, people are using it correctly. This is not the only word that functions as both an adjective and an adverb.
    – Kosmonaut
    Nov 7, 2010 at 19:59

2 Answers 2


The Oxford English Dictionary says the following. Historically, the comparative of the adverb “well” was “bet” (the link requires subscription) whereas the comparative of the adjective “good” has been “better”. The use of the word “better” as an adverb appeared around the 13th century, and it superseded “bet” by around 1600.

As Kosmonaut writes in a comment on the question, in modern English, the word “better” is used as both an adjective and an adverb. The Merriam-Webster dictionary agrees on this.

  • Interesting – just what I was after, thanks. It still feels wrong to me to use "better" as an adverb though! Nov 7, 2010 at 20:03
  • @Will Vousden: Yes, it turned out to be surprisingly interesting. It is always worth looking up a large dictionary! Nov 7, 2010 at 20:10

Well can be modified with an appropriate adverb such as "exceedingly" to indicate a comparison.

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    Sure, but sometimes you just want a single word. The same could be said of "good", but you wouldn't want to be restricted to saying things like "exceedingly good" when you could just say "better". Nov 7, 2010 at 19:34
  • Yes, just as "ungood" means bad. Just ask Big Brother. (George Orwell, 1984.)
    – shipr
    Apr 26, 2011 at 6:36

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