Saturday, April 12, 2008

A Question 'Way Too Obscure

I was thinking, today, about the phrase “way more than”. My internal editor was debating with my lazy typing fingers about whether there should be an apostrophe in front of “way”.

The editor reasoned that it was an abbreviation of the phrase “far and away” and thus would require the apostrophe. The fingers argued that the colloquial use had become so prevalent, and that the setting was so casual, as to obviate the need for it. Needless to say, I felt the need to research the question.

The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms states that it's a variant of the phrase “by far” that arose in the mid-1800s. That's the whole history that I was able to discover. Four Google searches and hundreds of pointless results later, all I uncovered was one other person asking the question. The response that writer got was that the site author had never heard of such a thing and didn't believe that the phrase was the origin of this use of way.

While I hate to post something as singularly unhelpful as this, I'm hoping that you, darling readers, will have an answer to this question. When you write, for instance, that, “Vinyl sounds way better than compact discs,” do you mean, “The sound you get from vinyl is far and away better than that from CDs”? And, if so, have you heard of folks using an apostrophe before way to indicate that?