Word Confusion: Wae vs Way vs Weigh

Posted July 21, 2016 by Kathy Davie in Author Resources, Self-Editing, Word Confusions, Writing

Revised as of 12 October 2017

It’s not so much wae, although I do feel quite waeful about writers who put too much faith in their spellcheckers. For, aye, way and weigh are simply not in the same league.

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.

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and the German bewegen meaning move, from an Indo-European root shared by the Latin vehere meaning convey. The early senses included transport from one place to another and raise up.

Wae Way Weigh
Credit to: Apple Dictionary.com; Dictionary.com: wae

I created this cartoon for a site about relationships. Theme was loneliness.

“Lonely Guy with Shadow as Friend” is Welleman’s own work under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

Oh wae is me…

The Milky Way above a huge telescope

“The Galactic Centre Above the ESO 3.6-metre Telescope” by S. Brunier/ESO is under the CC BY 4.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve never seen the Milky Way so clearly.

Vagner Rocha weighing in before a fight

“Vagner Rocha” by Peter Gordon (Flickr: Vagner Rocha) is under the CC BY 2.0 license, via Wikimedia Commons

A fighter weighing in for the Ultimate Fighting Championship.

Part of Grammar:
Plural for noun: waes
Adverb; Noun
Plural: ways


Noun 1
Verb, intransitive & transitive 2

Plural for noun: weigh
Third person present verb: weighs
Past tense or past participle: weighed
Gerund or present participle: weighing

[Scotland and North England] Woe, sorrow Adverb:

At or to a considerable distance or extent

  • [Used before an adverb or preposition for emphasis] Far
  • [As submodifier; chiefly North American] Much
  • [As submodifier; US] Extremely
  • [For emphasis] Really

A method, style, or manner of doing something

  • A person’s characteristic or habitual manner of behavior or expression
  • [Ways] The customary modes of behavior or practices of a group
  • [In singular] The typical manner in which something happens or in which someone or something behaves

A road, track, path, or street for traveling along

  • [Usually in singular] A course of travel or route taken in order to reach a place
  • A means of entry or exit from somewhere, such as a door or gate
  • [In singular; also North American informal, ways] A distance traveled or to be traveled
    • The distance from one place to another
  • [In singular] A period between one point in time and another
  • [In singular] Travel or motion along a particular route
    • The route along which someone or something would travel if unobstructed
  • [In singular] A specified direction
  • [Often ways] Parts into which something divides or is divided
  • [One’s way] Used with a verb and adverbial phrase to intensify the force of an action or to denote movement or progress
  • Forward or backward motion of a ship or boat through water

[In singular with modifier or possessive; informal] A particular area or locality

A particular aspect of something

  • A respect

[In singular with adjective] A specified condition or state

[Ways] A sloping structure down which a new ship is launched

Equivalent to -ways

[In the phrase under weigh) Nautical See the post, “Under Way vs Underway vs Under Weigh“.

Verb, intransitive:
Find out how heavy (someone or something) is, typically using scales

  • [Weigh on] Be depressing or burdensome to

Assess the nature or importance of, especially with a view to a decision or action

  • Influence a decision or action
  • Be considered important

Verb, transitive:
Find out how heavy (someone or something) is, typically using scales

  • Have a specified weight
  • Balance in the hands to guess or as if to guess the weight of
  • [Weigh something out] Measure and take from a larger quantity of a substance a portion of a particular weight

Assess the nature or importance of, especially with a view to a decision or action

  • [Weigh something against] Compare the importance of one factor with that of (another)
“There was an honest farmer that had kept up a sore struggle, my own very heart was wae for him when I put his bill in the packet.” – Mrs. (Margaret) Oliphant, A Widow’s Tale and Other Stories

“But, wae’s me, what did she see as she went to the castle door to welcome them?” – Margaret Bruce Clarke, Hunter’s Marjory

“He fell in a rain of tears, fearing nor death nor hardship, I knew, but wae at the abandonment of his home.” – Neil Munro, John Splendid

It’s wae sad we are at not being able to visit ye more often.

Wae is me.

His understanding of what constitutes good writing is way off target.

My grandchildren are way ahead of others their age.

I was cycling way too fast.

The guys behind the bar were way cool.

Worry was their way of showing how much they cared.

There are two ways of approaching this problem.

It was not his way to wait passively for things to happen.

They be foreigners who adopt French ways.

He was showing off, as is the way with adolescent boys.

I know the way to No. 3, Church Way. It’s just across the way.

Can you tell me the way to Duffy Square?

We’re going in by way of the back way.

They still had a long way ahead of them.

The area’s wine industry still has some way to go to full maturity.

September was a long way off.

Christine tried to follow but Martin blocked her way.

We just missed another car coming the other way.

The national vote split three ways. We’ll have to find a way to tighten that up.

By the way, it ended up being a five-way bidding war.

I shouldered my way to the bar.

The dinghy lost way and drifted toward the shore.

I’ve got a sick cousin over Fayetteville way.

I swear. I have changed in every way.

The family was in a poor way.

They’ll be letting her slip down the ways as soon as they break that bottle.

There are two highways you can use to get there.

It’s the byways about which you need to be concerned.

Take the motorway. It’ll be faster.

Verb, intransitive:
His unhappiness would weigh on my mind so much.

The evidence weighed heavily against him.

Verb, transitive:
You have to weigh yourself on the day you begin the diet.

The vendor weighed the vegetables.

When the twins were born, they weighed ten pounds.

She picked up the brick and weighed it in her right hand.

She weighed out two ounces of loose tobacco.

The consequences of the move would need to be very carefully weighed.

They need to weigh benefit against risk.

The evidence weighed heavily against him.

Tell the men to weigh anchor.

I suggest you weigh your words before you speak.

Adjective: wayless
Noun: waeful
Adjective: unweighable, weighable, weighty, weightier, weightiest, well-weighed
Adverb: weightlessly, weightily
Noun: weighbridge, weigher, weigh-in, weight, weightbelt, weightiness, weighting, weight-lifter, weightlessness, weightloss, weight-watcher
Verb: weight
Phrasal Verb
weigh someone down
weigh in
weigh in at
weigh in with
weigh into
weigh out
weigh someone up
weigh something up
History of the Word:
Old English weg is of Germanic origin and related to the Dutch weg and German Weg, from a base meaning move, carry. 1 Late 18th century from an erroneous association with weigh anchor

2 Old English wegan is of Germanic origin and related to wagon and wain, and to the Dutch wegen meaning weigh

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

Pinterest Photo Credits:

Battle of Alma Sutherland Highlanders is courtesy of PDClipart and in the public domain, via Wikimedia Commons