Well Versed – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Is there someone in your office that knows everything there is to know about Excel? Maybe there is a professor at your college that has an answer to every question regarding the topic they teach?

If so, it is appropriate to say that they are well versed in the subject at hand. This post unpacks the meaning and origin of this expression.


The phrase well-versed means that a person is skilled, well-practiced, or highly knowledgeable. To say that a person is well versed, means that they know a lot about what they are talking about. The phrase also relates to skills in that being well versed in a certain skill implies that you or a person is able to perform that skill with a level of high mastery.

The phrase can also be used in relation to interpersonal relationships. If a person is well versed in dealing with another, they are knowledgeable about said person. For example, if you have a long-term friend, you can say that you are well versed in their behaviors and habits.

Another example is that a parent would be well versed in the mannerisms, habits, and behaviors of their child, thus being able to spot when something is outside of the norm. More information can be found in the video (here).

Example Usage

“The science teacher is well versed in both practical and theoretical application”.

“I never expected such a young child to be so well versed in the art of baking cookies”.

“In order to become well versed on any subject, you will need to dedicate time and energy to the study of that subject”.

“Most people who are well versed on a topic are actually passionate about what they are speaking about”.

“It is possible to be well versed while still not knowing everything there is to know about a subject”.

Origin of Well Versed

The origin of well-versed can be traced back to the early parts of the 17th century. Specifically, the Latin term versatus or the French term verse. The past principle of the of versari means to be engaged in. If you go back a bit further, the word versed, is an obsolete form of the past principle verse, which means to turn over. In the 1700s, the Latin form of the tern meant to busy oneself or turn to think it over. While the French term mint to revolve in meditation or to turn. As you can see, both terms are meant to think or contemplate on a particular item or subject.

Phrases Similar to Well Versed

  • Well read
  • Knowledgeable
  • Perceptive
  • Imaginative
  • Master class
  • Apt
  • Expert
  • Acuity

Phrases Opposite to Well Versed

  • Uninformed
  • A step behind
  • Uneducated
  • Inexperienced
  • Not knowledgeable
  • Unknown
  • Illiterate
  • Uncultured
  • Stupid
  • Unsophisticated
  • Unaware

What is the Correct Saying?

  • Well versed is the proper way to phrase this term.

Ways People May Incorrectly Say Well Versed

The phrase well-versed is pretty self-explanatory, however, it is possible to use the phrase incorrectly. Some ways that well-versed is used incorrectly are:

  • John is not well versed in anatomy, after all, he does have a Master’s in the subject.
  • That is a nicely written well versed song.
  • I don’t quite know what you mean by well versed, do you mean that it has the right number of verses?
  • This is not an age that relates to well-versed casuistry.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Well Versed

  • As a theologian, it is important to be well versed in both scripture and practical application.
  • I think you should reconsider his posting, he is not well versed in the study of space flight as is required for the job.
  • As an actor it is important to be well versed in how to through your voice, stand, and perform on cue.
  • A surgeon must be well versed in their craft in order to have any measure of success in the field.
  • She is well versed in the application of serums and solvents, she went to school for it after all.

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