Word Confusion: Under Way vs Underway vs Under Weigh

Posted February 23, 2015 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Editing, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 12 October 2017

If you look at under weigh and are considering using it, you must work in a doctor’s office or a clinic that counsels people with an eating disorder. Of course, it’s not a problem I suffer from, if anything, I over weigh. Or rather, I’m overweight. So even using under weigh isn’t accurate without it’s t.

Once you toss under weigh out the porthole, there’s not much more to say about under way or underway. Especially when taking into account that a number of publications and APA have phased out or are replacing under way with underway. It is, of course, your choice as to which you use. Just remember the writer’s (and the publisher’s) mantra: be consistent. Once you choose a spelling, stick to it. Add it to your computer’s autocorrect!

If you are writing a story that takes place before 2013, consider the historical accuracy of using under way. It’s those little details that help set the mood, the time, the setting.

Word Confusions…

…started as my way of dealing with a professional frustration with properly spelled words that were out of context in manuscripts I was editing as well as books I was reviewing. It evolved into a sharing of information with y’all. I’m hoping you’ll share with us words that have been a bête noir for you from either end. Consider sharing this Word Confusion with friends by tweeting it.

Under Way * Underway Under Weigh
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Merriam-Webster; Grammarist
Part of Grammar:
Adverb and Predicate Adjective Compound Word

Attributive Adjective
Used in error, see under way
Adverb and Adjective:
Having started and making progress

In motion (not at anchor or aground)

Into motion from a standstill

In progress

[Nautical] Of a boat moving through the water 1

Occurring, performed, or used while traveling or in motion
No time was lost in getting under way.

Preparations were under way.

The season got under way with a bang.

The underway voyage was interrupted.

A blogging war was underway on Goodreads.

The voting was underway by 6 a.m.

NOTE: Under way is phasing out of use with a number of major publications switching back and forth between under way and underway.
If using the AP Stylebook or its preferred dictionary, Webster’s New World, underway is one word in all instances, effective May 21, 2013.
History of the Word:
1720, as a nautical term, from the Dutch onderweg or the Middle Dutch onderwegen, literally meaning, under or among the ways. 1735-45 saw the adjectival use of the adverbial phrase under way. 1749 as a variation from folk etymology.

C’mon, get it out of your system, bitch, whine, moan…which words are your pet peeves?

Pinterest Photo Credits

Vasco Odyssea is Ninthcloud676’s own work, which is in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.