In Danish, there is the word »rask« (I am sure there are similar words in other Germanic languages), which means either 'not sick' or 'quick'. The latter sense is largely context dependent, and considered a bit old fashioned.

The advantage of the former meaning, is that one can ask »føler du dig rask?« (approx. 'do you feel not sick?'). I wonder if there is a word in English to convey the same meaning in a single word, so you can formulate the same kind of polar question.

The word 'healthy' (as in, 'do you feel healthy?') could also imply you lead a healthy lifestyle. One can be not sick, while also being unhealthy.

Similarly, the word 'well' (as in, 'do you feel well?') - while closer - could also imply different meanings, as it has different connotations. English is a second language to me, but I still have hard times grasping the exact meaning of 'well'.

And I feel, at times, that native English speakers have the same problem. If someone asks, 'do you feel well?', and my financial situation is looking bleak, and it's worrying me, but technically I do not feel sick, I would probably answer 'no'. But if someone asked me 'do you feel not sick?' in the same situation, I would answer 'yes'.

Am I misinterpreting the word 'well'? Or does English lack a clear singular word meaning 'not sick', that has broad consensus in terms of meaning? In Danish, since »rask« is an infrequently used word, its meaning is generally agreed upon. Unlike 'well'.

  • In the medical sense, if a someone (esp. a child) is seeing a doctor for a check-up and feels healthy, those are called well-child visits. Speaking as a native AmE speaker, I can not think of a word that fits what you are looking for.
    – katatahito
    Jul 1, 2019 at 8:28
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    In BrE if someone asks me "Do you feel well?" I know they are asking if I am not sick, not whether I am in touch with my feelings. Similarly "I am feeling unwell." Jul 1, 2019 at 8:30
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    @WeatherVane Or if someone half-suspected you were ill, they might say "Do you feel alright?"
    – WS2
    Jul 1, 2019 at 8:33
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    I think if you told most British-English Speakers that you were not 'well' then said it was because of your finances, they would either assume you were so worried about money that it was making you ill or they would say 'I asked if you were 'well', not if you were 'well off'!'. Also, in British-English there is more of an assumption, though perhaps a declining one, that 'sick' means throwing up.
    – Spagirl
    Jul 1, 2019 at 11:59
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    @Spagirl This has always been a very common false friend for Danes (and speakers of several other Germanic languages), since the local cognates of sick (e.g., Danish syg) mean ‘ill’. The only sort-of exception I can think of is German, whose cognate, siech, is quite old-fashioned and literary and the normal word for ‘ill’ is instead krank. Jul 1, 2019 at 12:04

1 Answer 1


"feeling well" is generally (as in almost always) used with health so yes, "Not sick" is synonymous with "well".

You can also use "in good health".

As pointed out above "feeling unwell" means "sick".

Although it should be noted that "sick" is ambiguous (nauseous, in bad health, unwell etc)

  • Healthy is also fine. The question itself is based on a faulty premise. Jul 1, 2019 at 18:35
  • Would your answer be the same if the word was 'ill' rather than 'sick'? I worry I may have made a mistranslation by using 'sick' rather than 'ill'.
    – Svip
    Jul 3, 2019 at 9:43
  • @SVIP ''not ill' would be 'well', 'healthy' is more referring to general physical wellbeing but depending on context you could use 'feeling better', 'recovered' although they do presuppose you were ill. "Are you ill?" "No, I feel well" "No, I feel OK", "No, I'm feeling good" for actions in the present. 'Sick', as you correctly surmise, is ambiguous as, literally, it means nauseous.
    – Chris Pink
    Jul 4, 2019 at 7:36

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