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From Middle English heiȝwai, heiȝwei, from Old English hēahweġ (main road, highway), corresponding to high +‎ way. Compare highgate, high street, high road.

Cognate with Scots heaway, heway, hieway, hichway, heichway (highway).


  • IPA(key): /ˈhaɪweɪ/
  • (file)
    Rhymes: -aɪweɪ


highway (plural highways)

  1. (historical) A road that is higher than the surrounding land and has drainage ditches at the sides
  2. A main public road, especially a multi-lane, high-speed thoroughfare.
    • 1963, Margery Allingham, chapter 7, in The China Governess[1]:
      The highway to the East Coast which ran through the borough of Ebbfield had always been a main road and even now, despite the vast garages, the pylons and the gaily painted factory glasshouses which had sprung up beside it, there still remained an occasional trace of past cultures.
  3. (figuratively) A way; a path that leads to a certain destiny
    You're on a highway to greatness.
  4. (law, rail transport) Any public road for vehicular traffic.
  5. (computing) Synonym of bus (common connection for two or more circuits or components)


  • (road): hwy. (abbreviation)


Derived terms[edit]



highway (third-person singular simple present highways, present participle highwaying, simple past and past participle highwayed)

  1. To travel on a highway


  • highway at OneLook Dictionary Search
  • highway in The Century Dictionary, New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911