If I can say, "He is well," meaning, "He is in good health," how do I express that he's in better health, or that he's in the best health ever? "He's weller"? "He's more well"? Those both sound strange to me.

Or do the adjectives "well" and "good" re-converge in the comparative? In other words, do "better" and "best" cover the meaning of the adjective "well" also?

Interestingly, "wellest" and "most well" sound more acceptable to me than do "weller" or "more well." For example, "This is the wellest I've been all year," sounds alright to my ears (I think...).


To clarify: This is grammar question relating to morphology. I am not looking for idiomatic expressions or phrases that are similar in meaning. I am asking this in a very dry, technical sense. For example, for the adjective “good,” the comparative and superlative forms are “better” and “best,” respectively. For “bad,” they are “worse” and “worst.” For “large,” they are “larger” and “largest.” For “tall,” they are “taller” and “tallest.” And so on.

There is an adjective “well,” which means “in a state of good health,” as in the sentence, “I had the flu last week, but thankfully I am well now.” (I am not talking about the adverb “well.”) So, for this adjective “well,” what are the forms that would replace the “???” below?


[plain form], [comparative form], [superlative form]

good, better, best

bad, worse, worst

large, larger, largest

tall, taller, tallest

far, farther, farthest

ugly, uglier, ugliest

red, redder, reddest

difficult, more difficult, most difficult

tasty, tastier, tastiest

awful, more awful, most awful

easy, easier, easiest

well, ???, ???

Or: Use the comparative form of the adjective “well” to fill in the blank:

“I have not yet fully recovered from my illness, but I think I will be well within a few days. I’ve improjeved a great deal this past week. For example, I feel a lot _____ today than I did yesterday.”

There is the word "better," as in, "I had a horrible cold last week, but I'm better now" or "I'll kiss it and make it better" or "I feel better than I did yesterday, but I'm not 100% back to normal yet." But in a morphological sense, there is no corresponding superlative form for this word "better," and there isn't even really a plain form of it -- it exists as a sort of defective adjective (distinct from "good/better/best") whose meaning is always comparative. This defective adjective "better" can mean "fully recovered" or merely "in an improved state compared to before."

(Note: I mean "defective" the way the word is used in the context of grammar, describing a word that lacks the full complement of forms that are typical of words in its class. For example, the defective verb "beware" exists only in the imperative and infinitive. You can say "Beware of the dog!" or "I will make sure to beware of the dog," but you cannot say, "He bewares of the dog" or "They were bewaring of the dog." The verb "beware" does not have a present tense, past tense, past participle, or present participle/gerund.)

  • 1
    Without individual context, it is not possible to give an answer. There are various uses of well, better, improved, really good, ill, sicker, etc., that are used idiomatically depending on the context. For example: "This is the wellest I've been all year," would usually be said by someone who was not in normal health but who had been very ill for a long time.
    – Greybeard
    Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 11:37
  • 2
    You can say that a sick person is better, meaning either that they are improving or completely recovered (depending on context), but you can't say they are best. Commented Sep 28, 2021 at 12:52
  • He's in excellent health, he's in good health, he's in poor health.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Sep 29, 2021 at 16:55

2 Answers 2


You're asking for specific input on "well" as an adjective. My feedback is that while you might find "weller" or "more well" in usage, and also the superlative "wellest" as well, I have personally never encountered this in conversation or regular usage, and you're better off using the other common expressions (e.g. he's in great shape, he's excellent, his health has improved exceptionally well). It's probably because "to be doing well" is not a strong expression in itself, but very context dependent. Even when intended to emphasize a positive outcome, it's almost a euphemism (e.g. Bezos is doing really well in his personal finances), or it's used to compare to a previous "unwell" situation where the contrast is stark. If you want to amp it up I suggest you use adverbs "really, exceptionally, very".

The answer to the 'fill in the blank' will not satisfy you, since 99.999% of natural English speakers would opt to say "I feel a lot better today..." rather than insisting on using "well" as a base adjective.


He's in the best shape of his life or some similar variation, such as he's in great shape. These idiomatic expressions are also used to refer to how physically fit someone is, which isn't strictly referring to one's health. One can appear physically fit from exercise, yet have a fatal disease. Wellness is complex.


the condition in which someone or something exists at a particular time

Notably in shape

in an original, normal, or fit condition

leverages this definition.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.