a. A road, path, or highway affording passage from one place to another.
b. An opening affording passage: This door is the only way into the attic.
a. Space to proceed: cleared the way for the parade.
b. Opportunity to advance: opened the way to peace.
a. A course that is or may be used in going from one place to another: tried to find the shortest way home.
b. Progress or travel along a certain route or in a specific direction: on her way north.
c. often ways (Used with a sing. verb) Informal Distance: The travelers have come a long way. That village is a good ways off.
a. A course of conduct or action: tried to take the easy way out of the mess he was in.
b. A manner or method of doing something: several ways of solving this problem; had no way to reach her. See Synonyms at method.
c. Used with a personal pronoun as the object of various verbs to indicate progress toward an objective: elbowed his way through the crowd; talked my way into the club; worked his way into a better job.
d. A usual or habitual manner or mode of being, living, or acting: the American way of life.
e. An individual or personal manner of behaving, acting, or doing: Have it your own way.
a. A specific direction: He glanced my way.
b. A participant. Often used in combination: a three-way conversation.
a. An aspect, particular, or feature: resembles his father in many ways; in no way comparable.
b. Nature or category: not much in the way of a plot.
7. Freedom to do as one wishes: if I had my way.
8. An aptitude or facility: She certainly does have a way with words.
9. A state or condition: He is in a bad way financially.
10. Vicinity: Drop in when you're out our way.
11. often ways A longitudinal strip on a surface that serves to guide a moving machine part.
12. ways (used with a sing. or pl. verb) Nautical The structure on which a ship is built and from which it slides when launched.
1. Informal By a great distance or to a great degree; far: way off base; way too expensive.
2. Slang Very; extremely: "Can they really make a car that's way cool?" (Fortune).
3. Informal From this place; away: Go way.
4. Informal Used in response to no way to indicate affirmation contradicting a negative assertion.
all the way
From beginning to end; completely: drove all the way from Detroit to Pittsburgh.
by the way
Incidentally: By the way, you forgot to cash that check.
by way of
1. Through; via: flew to the Far East by way of the polar route.
2. As a means of: made no comment by way of apology.
go out of (one's)/the way
To inconvenience oneself in doing something beyond what is required.
in a way
1. To a certain extent; with reservations: I like the new styles, in a way.
2. From one point of view: In a way, you're right.
in the way
In a position to obstruct, hinder, or interfere.
no way Informal
Certainly not: Did you like that movie?—No way! It was boring.
on (one's)/the way
In the process of coming, going, or traveling: She is on her way out the door. Winter is on the way.
on the way
On the route of a journey: met him on the way to town; ran into them on the way.
out of the way
1. In such a position as not to obstruct, hinder, or interfere.
2. Taken care of; disposed of: some details to get out of the way first.
3. In a remote location.
4. Of an unusual character; remarkable.
5. Improper; amiss: said nothing out of the way.
In the manner that: The way he talks, you'd think he ran the company.
1. In motion or operation.
2. In ongoing development; in progress.
[Middle English, from Old English weg; see wegh- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Way has long been an intensifying adverb meaning "to a great degree," as in way over budget. This usage is both acceptable and common but has an informal ring. Way is also used as a general intensifier, as in way cool and way depressing. This usage remains a hallmark of casual speech and is not appropriate for formal contexts. · In American English ways is often used as an equivalent of way in phrases such as a long ways to go. This usage is considered nonstandard by most editors, though it appears occasionally in less formal texts.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.