Public road or other public way on land / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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A highway is any public or private road or other public way on land. It is used for major roads, but also includes other public roads and public tracks. In the United States, it is used as an equivalent term to controlled-access highway, or a translation for autobahn, autoroute, etc.
According to Merriam Webster, the use of the term predates the 12th century. According to Etymonline, "high" is in the sense of "main".
In North American and Australian English, major roads such as controlled-access highways or arterial roads are often state highways (Canada: provincial highways). Other roads may be designated "county highways" in the US and Ontario. These classifications refer to the level of government (state, provincial, county) that maintains the roadway. In British English, "highway" is primarily a legal term. Everyday use normally implies roads, while the legal use covers any route or path with a public right of access, including footpaths etc.
The term has led to several related derived terms, including highway system, highway code, highway patrol and highwayman.