There are many other terms and expressions and relating to "way" for example, sidetrack, out of the way, roundabout way of speaking, etc. Where did the term by the way come from? I've googled it, to no avail, and may be its because it's been coined in a book or something. Does anyone know anything relating to this saying? And maybe explain the popularity of terms relating to "way".
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Your question is conflating two different meanings of "way".
"By the way" is literally "by the side of the road", but the OED cites its figurative use ("Incidentally, in passing, as a side-topic.") from 1556. I don't believe a single authoritative source will ever be identified for it, as I guess it was in common speech before 1556.
"Sidetrack" uses the same metaphor, as you imply.
But "roundabout way of speaking" is "roundabout [way of speaking]", and uses "way" in the sense of "Manner in which something is done or takes place; method of performing an action or operation." (the OED's sense 14 a).
The Corpus of Historical American English has examples of sentences containing by the way from 1810 and later years.
It is also used in the following sentences:
"Then fairly I bespoke the officer To go in person with me to my house. By the way we met My wife, her sister, and a rabble more of vile confederates;"
The Comedy of Errors, William Shakespeare ACT V scene i, lines 233-237
This was written sometimes in the 1590's.
While reading Maya Angelou's "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings", I learned that "the way" portion refers to God as in "the way, the truth and the light"; so by the way would mean literally "By God".
protected by Janus Bahs Jacquet Dec 31 '14 at 13:25
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