way (n.)

Old English weg "road, path; course of travel; room, space, freedom of movement;" also, figuratively, "course of life" especially, in plural, "habits of life" as regards moral, ethical, or spiritual choices, from Proto-Germanic *wega- "course of travel, way" (source also of Old Saxon, Dutch weg, Old Norse vegr, Old Frisian wei, Old High German weg, German Weg, Gothic wigs "way"), from PIE root *wegh- "to go, move, transport in a vehicle."

From c. 1300 as "manner in which something occurs." Adverbial constructions attested since Middle English include this way "in this direction," that way "in that direction," both from late 15c.; out of the way "remote" (c. 1300). In the way "so placed as to impede" is from 1560s.

From the "course of life" sense comes way of life (c. 1600), get (or have) one's way (1590s), have it (one's) way (1709). From the "course of travel" sense comes the figurative go separate ways (1837); one way or (the) other (1550s); have it both ways (1847); and the figurative sense of come a long way (1922).

Adverbial phrase all the way "completely, to conclusion" is by 1915; sexual sense implied by 1924. Make way is from c. 1200. Ways and means "resources at a person's disposal" is attested from early 15c. (with mean (n.)). Way out "means of exit" is from 1926. Encouragement phrase way to go is short for that's the way to go.

way (adv.)

c. 1200, short for away (adv.). Many expressions involving this are modern and American English colloquial, such as way-out "far off;" way back "a long time ago" (1887); way off "quite wrong" (1892). Any or all of these might have led to the slang adverbial meaning "very, extremely," attested by 1984 (as in way cool).

updated on December 10, 2018

Definitions of way from WordNet
way (n.)
how something is done or how it happens;
a lonely way of life
Synonyms: manner / mode / style / fashion
way (n.)
thing or person that acts to produce a particular effect or achieve an end;
the true way to success
Synonyms: means / agency
way (n.)
a line leading to a place or point;
didn't know the way home
Synonyms: direction
way (n.)
the condition of things generally;
that's the way it is
I felt the same way
way (n.)
a course of conduct;
we went our separate ways
Synonyms: path / way of life
way (n.)
any artifact consisting of a road or path affording passage from one place to another;
he said he was looking for the way out
way (n.)
a journey or passage;
they are on the way
way (n.)
space for movement;
make way for
Synonyms: room / elbow room
way (n.)
the property of distance in general;
it's a long way to Moscow
he went a long ways
way (n.)
doing as one pleases or chooses;
if I had my way
way (n.)
a general category of things; used in the expression `in the way of';
they didn't have much in the way of clothing
way (n.)
a portion of something divided into shares;
they split the loot three ways
way (adv.)
to a great degree or by a great distance; very much (`right smart' is regional in the United States);
way over budget
way off base
Synonyms: right smart
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