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right of way

or right-of-way

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noun, plural rights of way, right of ways.
  1. a common law or statutory right granted to a vehicle, as an airplane or boat, to proceed ahead of another.
  2. a path or route that may lawfully be used.
  3. a right of passage, as over another's land.
  4. the strip of land acquired for use by a railroad for tracks.
  5. land covered by a public road.
  6. land over which a power line passes.
  7. Fencing. the right to attack or continue an attack, and thus to be credited with a hit, by virtue of having first extended the sword arm or having parried the opponent's attack.
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Origin of right of way

First recorded in 1760–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for right of way

access, approach, inlet

Examples from the Web for right of way

Historical Examples of right of way

  • You can show it to any guard, who will, on seeing it, give you the right-of-way.

    Jennie Baxter, Journalist

    Robert Barr

  • The boss thinks that he will get out and stir his feet for a minute on the right-of-way.

    The Modern Railroad

    Edward Hungerford

  • Turns in either direction at intersections and vehicle to the right has right-of-way.

  • The police at once gave them right-of-way in the distressed area.

  • What I wanted to get at was whether or not you had right-of-way, not way.


British Dictionary definitions for right of way

right of way

noun plural rights of way
  1. the right of one vehicle or vessel to take precedence over another, as laid down by law or custom
    1. the legal right of someone to pass over another's land, acquired by grant or by long usage
    2. the path or road used by this right
  2. US the strip of land over which a power line, railway line, road, etc, extends
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Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Idioms and Phrases with right of way

right of way

1

The right of one person or vehicle to travel over another's property, as in The new owner doesn't like it, but hikers have had the right of way through these woods for decades. [Mid-1700s]

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2

The right to precede another person or vehicle, as in Sailboats always have the right of way over motorboats, and swimmers do over any kind of boat. [Early 1900s]

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.