Talk:very well

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very well[edit]

RfD-sense: Adjective: "unusually well". This definition is not really different from very + well. Other adverbs can take the role of "very" with no unexpected change of meaning. Thus, it seems clearly NISoP.

RfD-sense: Adverb: "clearly". This does not see distinguishable from the literal meaning. It seems to me that all that is distinct is the construction "to VP very well [nominal phrase or clause]" where the verb is restricted to one of some cognitive activity (eg, perceiving, imagining, knowing). To engage in a cognitive activity "very well" is to do so clearly. But similarly, for an sniper to aim "very well" means to aim accurately. The "goodness" of performance of the action of a verb usually can be better specified by a well-chosen adverb.

The Adverb sense "probably" is also conveyed by well alone, but "well" in this sense cannot be modified by very many adverbs except very. Thus it seems to be a "bound collocation", which might make it sufficiently idiomatic to keep. In addition, it seems that only verb phrases with modal verbs like "can", "may", "could", "would", (etc ?) that are modified by "very well" in this sense.

Finally, there is still a missing sense for the usage: "I can't very well add a definition for an idiom I don't understand." That is, modal + negative, I think. DCDuring TALK 16:18, 13 July 2010 (UTC)

Unless I'm missing something, it looks like you just added the "clearly" adverb sense yourself, redundant to the "{{&lit}}" adverb sense, and then RFDed it. Why? I think delete the "clearly" sense (merge any good usex it may have acquired by the time this discussion ends into the other sense).​—msh210 (talk) 16:41, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
Well, as the sense is in other dictionaries, I think it merits consideration. How an item got here is (or should be) immaterial. I am fairly skeptical about most of the senses of both all very well and very well, but not dead set against them. Some of our problem is our incredibly incomplete coverage of the senses and subsenses of well, especially the adverb. We have 4 senses; AHD has 17. DCDuring TALK 17:04, 13 July 2010 (UTC)
Delete the "clearly" sense.​—msh210 (talk) 20:41, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
The adjective sense nominated is just {{&lit}} (though it doesn't use the template). Should we include that if it's the only adjective sense, since there are adverb senses? (Probably not.)​—msh210 (talk) 20:41, 1 December 2010 (UTC)
The "can't very well" sense (not in the entry yet but mentioned by DCDuring) seems to me to be the same as the "might very well" sense. we define the latter as "probably" but that's not correct: consider *will/shall very well. The very well is an addition to the might, lessening the improbability introduced by might (thereby strengthening the probability of the main verb); that's the same use in can't very well: it reduces the impossibility introduced by can't (thereby strengthening the possibility of the main verb). They're the same sense, but I'm not sure how to word it: {{non-gloss definition|Used to weaken the effect of certain modal verbs}}?​—msh210 (talk) 20:41, 1 December 2010 (UTC)

I've deleted the "clearly" sense, seeing no objection; I've moved one of its usexes to be under the sense it was redundant to. I've modified the adjective sense to use {{&lit}}; it's still nominated for deletion. I've reworded the "probably" sense per my suggestion above, and added a usex and a usage note for it. I'm now tagging this section with {{look}}.​—msh210 (talk) 18:25, 22 March 2011 (UTC)


Looks good. Striking. -- Prince Kassad 17:35, 20 April 2011 (UTC)