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See also: wellwisher



Etymology 1[edit]

From well (in a desirable manner; so as one could wish, adverb) +‎ wisher.[1]


well-wisher (plural well-wishers)

  1. Someone who extends good wishes, or expresses sympathy, to someone else.
    Synonyms: good willer, (archaic) well-willer
    Antonyms: (archaic) evil willer, (obsolete) ill-willer
    • 1711 May 6 (Gregorian calendar), [Richard Steele], “WEDNESDAY, April 25, 1711”, in The Spectator, number 48; republished in Alexander Chalmers, editor, The Spectator; a New Edition, [], volume I, New York, N.Y.: D[aniel] Appleton & Company, 1853, →OCLC, pages 308–309:
      [T]hose honest gentlemen that are always exposed to the wit and raillery of their well-wishers and companions; that are pelted by men, women, and children, friends and foes, and in a word, stand as butts in conversation, for every one to shoot at that pleases.
    • 1716 January 20 (Gregorian calendar), Joseph Addison, “The Free-holder: No. 6. Monday, January 9. [1716.]”, in The Works of the Right Honourable Joseph Addison, Esq; [], volume IV, London: [] Jacob Tonson, [], published 1721, →OCLC, page 380:
      [T]he actual traytor or rebel is guilty of perjury in the eye of the lavv; the ſecret promoter, or vvell-vviſher of the cauſe, is ſo before the Tribunal of conſcience.
    • 1761, Titus Livius [i.e., Livy], chapter L, in [anonymous], transl., Titus Livius’s Roman History from the Building of the City. [], volume VII, Edinburgh: [] A[lexander] Donaldson and J[ohn] Reid, for Alexander Donaldson, →OCLC, book XXXIII, page 235:
      Nor did he ſeem to have made an unreaſonable reply to them both, and it vvas eaſy for a ſpeech to be received favorably amongſt vvellvviſhers.
    • 1770, “Letter XIV. Miss Lavinia Rawlins, to Mrs. Gertrude Coningsby.”, in The History of Lavinia Rawlins. [], 2nd edition, volume I, London: [] [F]or the editor; and sold by F. Noble, []; and J. Noble, [], page 111:
      [G]ive me the hopes of my dear girl's approaching felicity, equal to the deſires of / Her ſincereſt VVellvviſher, / LAVINIA RAWLINS.
    • 1823 December 23 (indicated as 1824), [Walter Scott], “An Old-World Landlady”, in St Ronan’s Well. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] [James Ballantyne and Co.] for Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., →OCLC, pages 21–22:
      She had still, however, her friends and well-wishers, many of whom thought, that as she was a lone woman, and known to be well to pass in the world, she would act wisely to retire from public life, and take down a sign which had no longer fascination for guests.
    • 1827, [Thomas Hamilton], chapter III, in The Youth and Manhood of Cyril Thornton. [], volume II, Edinburgh: William Blackwood; London: T[homas] Cadell, →OCLC, page 70:
      "You see before you," she said, with choking utterance, "one who, fallen and degraded as she is, would still venture to hope that she has a friend, at least a wellwisher, in Mr Thornton. If I am mistaken in this, alas! I am friendless."
    • 1849, Currer Bell [pseudonym; Charlotte Brontë], “Levitical”, in Shirley. A Tale. [], volume I, London: Smith, Elder and Co., [], →OCLC, page 15:
      "[] [I]t would be a nice opportunity for any of his well-wishers to pay him a visit, if they knew how straight the path was made before them." / "I am none of his well-wishers, sir: I don't care for him."
    • 1962 August, “Society Column: Keighley & Worth Valley Railway Preservation Society”, in Modern Railways, Shepperton, Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing, →ISSN, →OCLC, unnumbered page:
      Already a J72 0-6-0T has been promised by a well-wisher and will be re-painted in North Eastern Railway livery.
    • 1997, Ken Keeler, “El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)”, in The Simpsons, season 8, episode 9, spoken by Moe Szyslak (Hank Azaria):
      I'm a well-wisher, in that I don't wish you any specific harm.
    • 2020 January 15, Nigel Harris, “HST’s East Coast Farewell Tour”, in Rail, Peterborough, Cambridgeshire: Bauer Media, →ISSN, →OCLC, page 34:
      At each stopping place I stepped out of the train to chat to well-wishers.
  2. (obsolete, rare) Followed by to: someone who has an ambition to be or become something.
Derived terms[edit]
Related terms[edit]
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Etymology 2[edit]

From well (hole sunk into the ground as a source of water, etc.) +‎ wisher.


well-wisher (plural well-wishers)

  1. (nonce word, rare) Someone who makes a wish at a wishing well.
    • 2008, Alan Pinkett, chapter 12, in Utta Drivel Too, [S.l.: Lulu.com], published 2015, →ISBN, page 45:
      They strolled on and passed a smiling man standing by the Village wishing well. "Well," said the well-wisher. Ah … must be the Village idiot.
    • 2014, Nancy Atherton, chapter 7, in Aunt Dimity & the Wishing Well (Aunt Dimity series; 19), London: Headline Publishing Group, →ISBN, page 67:
      "I'll put a removable lid on it [a wishing well]," he assured her. "That way, it'll be safe for the nippers, but accessible to, um, well wishers. Have a wish in mind, Bree?"
    • 2019, A. A. A. Aardvark [pseudonym; Matthew Holmes], Quit before You’re Fired, and Other Visions through Inertia, [Riverwood, N.S.W.: Matthew Holmes], →ISBN, page 53:
      Maybe I am a wishing well, / I have regular well-wishers / Throwing me a coin. / Only change they throw me / Because they don't expect to see / Any change back.


  1. ^ well-wisher, n.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, September 2022; “well-wisher, adj.”, in Lexico, Dictionary.com; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.