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#172290 - 12/26/07 01:15 AM Under weigh/way
Hydra Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 631
Ahoy, me mateys.

I came across "under weigh" in a short story by H. G. Wells. At first I thought it was a malapropism (elsewhere the narrator uses "wreck and ruin"), but looked it up, and both "way" and "weigh" are acceptable.

What is the nautical explanation of "under weigh". The anchors are being weighed and the ship is ready to depart? If so, it seems to imply the onset of an activity, whereas "under way" implies that something has already started and is making good progress.




Edited by Hydra (12/26/07 01:16 AM)

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#172294 - 12/26/07 06:01 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: Hydra]
Faldage Offline
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Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
In either case one might wonder what the under was doing in there. According to Michael Quinion the source is the Dutch on der weg, 'on the way.' It got almost immediately eggcorned to under weigh, with an old sense of the word weigh, meaning 'to raise up.'

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#172295 - 12/26/07 10:08 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: Faldage]
Maven Offline
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Registered: 04/27/07
Posts: 120
Loc: California
From Gary Martin at Phrase finder:

Quote:

'Way' doesn't mean here road or route but has the specifically nautical meaning of 'the forward progress of a ship though the water', or the wake that the ship leaves behind. Way has been used like that since at least the 17th century.

...

More confusion enters with doubts over the phrase's spelling. The term 'weigh anchor', and the fact that when ships are loaded with cargo and ready to sail they are weighed down, has lead to the phrase being written as 'under weigh'. This a common enough misspelling to have become almost standardised; so much so that, in his 1846 Nautical Dictionary, Arthur Young wrongly suggested that under weigh was in fact the correct original spelling:

"Under way, this expression, often used instead of under weigh, seems to be a convenient one for denoting that a ship or boat is making progress through the water, whether by sails or other motive power."

There seems little to justify it, but Young must have had some success in promoting that view as many prominent 19th century authors, including Thackeray, Herman Melville and Charles Dickens, all spelled the term that way - or should that be that weigh?


So 'way' is the original phrase, with a nautical intent, that was modified through usage.
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#172296 - 12/26/07 10:17 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: Faldage]
BranShea Offline
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Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5284
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
In Dutch, when you are 'onderweg' (one word) you are taking yourself from one place to another. On foot, by car, bike, ship or by plane; you are or one is on the way (under way?)to get somewhere.(maybe this fits in the context).

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#172297 - 12/26/07 10:18 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: Hydra]
zmjezhd Offline
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Registered: 08/13/05
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Loc: R'lyeh
I thought it was a malapropism (elsewhere the narrator uses "wreck and ruin")

OK, I'll bite: what's wrong with the phrase wreck and ruin?
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#172298 - 12/26/07 10:26 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: Faldage]
zmjezhd Offline
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Registered: 08/13/05
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Loc: R'lyeh
Dutch on der weg, 'on the way.'

I like how the Dutch preposition on and the definite article der got reanlysed as the English preposition under (whichis cognate with the English (via Latin) words inferior, infernal, &c., < PIE *̣ndhos).
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#172300 - 12/26/07 10:43 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: zmjezhd]
of troy Offline
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Registered: 10/17/00
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re: I like how the Dutch preposition on and the definite article der got reanlysed as the English preposition under (which is cognate with the English (via Latin) words inferior, infernal, &c.,

wouldn't the on/un perception depend a lot on how the dutch said on/(and how the english did?)

a maternal aunt was MAR ee (mar like to mar the surface)

we kids heard MARY, but my mother was saying Marie. they gave up trying to correct us, (or perhaps never heard what we were saying) and she became aunt Mary.

it wasn't till i was an adult that i heard MARee as Marie.
(by then i had traveled to both Ireland and UK and had a better ear.)

(i don't know any dutch (and haven't heard much spoken dutch) to know, and besides, i presume spoken dutch has change as much as spoken english over the centuries. could it be that onderway sounded like underway?
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#172303 - 12/26/07 11:20 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: zmjezhd]
tsuwm Offline
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Registered: 04/03/00
Posts: 10525
Loc: this too shall pass
Originally Posted By: zmjezhd
I thought it was a malapropism (elsewhere the narrator uses "wreck and ruin")

OK, I'll bite: what's wrong with the phrase wreck and ruin?


The phrase "rack and ruin" first appeared in English literature in the late 16th century, and its longevity as a figure of speech probably owes a lot to the attractive alliteration of its repetitive initial "r" sounds. [The Word Detective]

that 'rack' here is but a variant of 'wreck' is a moot point.

that 'rack' is often spelled 'wrack' in this phrase is even mooter.

-joe (wrack & roll) friday

(p.s. - this is where Bran steps in to explain wrak).

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#172304 - 12/26/07 11:31 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: tsuwm]
zmjezhd Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 08/13/05
Posts: 3290
Loc: R'lyeh
Ah, thanks, tsuwm. Now that you've joggled my brain, I seem to remember the older version (w)rack and ruin. The newer one, wreck and ruin, has been being used consistently since at least the middle of the 19th century: cf. Hawthorne in the Scarlet Letter:

Quote:
But thou shalt leave it all behind thee! It shall not cumber thy steps, as thou treadest along the forest-path; neither shalt thou freight the ship with it, if thou prefer to cross the sea. Leave this wreck and ruin here where it hath happened! Meddle no more with it! Begin all anew! Hast thou exhausted possibility in the failure of this one trial? Not so! The future is yet full of trial and success.
[Chapter 17.]

I'll take a look at some of the usual usage suspects.
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#172305 - 12/26/07 11:43 AM Re: Under weigh/way [Re: tsuwm]
BranShea Offline
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Registered: 06/23/06
Posts: 5284
Loc: Netherlands, the Hague
My turn? Wrak (Dutch) means in the first place a sunken (wrecked)ship.It is now also used as auto (car) 'wrak'.
As an adjective: 'wrakke', it means anything on the point of collapsing, a bridge, a bike, a building.(even a body, alas) But a collapsed building is not called a 'wrak'. It's a 'ruine'.Ru-eene.(Ah, yes a human being can be called a 'wrak')

edit,edit,edit

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