3

I was watching a TV show, and one man asked another where he was from. The response was "Pennsylvania by way of Illinois", and I can't really understand what it means in this context.

Edit: thefreedictionary.com says it means "passing through" but I don't see how it applies in this context.

  • 2
    He comes from Pennsylvania, but he lived in Illinois between the time he lived in Pennsylvania and wherever he lives now. There is no way you should define "by way of" as "passing through". Merriam-Webster defines it as "by the route through; via". – Peter Shor Mar 12 '13 at 15:53
  • Peter Shor: Thanks! Can you post this as an answer so I can mark it as accepted? – Grewe Kokkor Mar 12 '13 at 15:55
  • @PeterShor That is incorrect. See Juton's answer. The phrase "by way of" has somehow come into common "backward" use. I have posted a question about this: english.stackexchange.com/q/187911/13287 – phoog Jul 30 '14 at 17:52
4

Wiktionary shows the sense “By the route of; through; via” for by way of, versus the sense “passing through something (as a place); via something” shown in thefreedictionary. A person giving “Pennsylvania by way of Illinois” as where he is from typically means born in Pennsylvania, grew up in Illinois.

10

This is from Mad Men. Don Draper was actually born in Illinois and came to Pennsylvania after his father died. He was raised thereafter in a Philadelphia whorehouse. So he really should have said "Illinois, by way of Pennsylvania".

8

He comes from Pennsylvania, but he lived in Illinois between the time he lived in Pennsylvania and wherever he lives now. Merriam-Webster defines this sense of "by way of" as "by the route through; via".

  • -1: The usage being asked about is "backward" from the traditional meaning of the phrase; he actually comes from Illinois but subsequently lived in Pennsylvania. – phoog Jul 30 '14 at 17:54
1

Dictionary.com defines “by way of” as “by the route of; through; via.”

I did some research and came to the conclusion that the person originates from Pennsylvania but has lived in Illinois for quite a while.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.