This article from the Guardian newspaper includes the following phrase:

The Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron, said it was too late for Conservative backbenchers to be putting up resistance to a hard Brexit. “This is the biggest act of economic self harm in history and some Tory MPs are grasping at any straw they can find to assuage their consciences. They, like Corbyn have waived this through and history will judge them for it,” he said.

I always thought that waved it through would be correct here. Which is right?

  • 1
    Related: english.stackexchange.com/questions/379783/…
    – user66974
    Mar 28, 2017 at 11:13
  • 1
    "Waived it through" would be appropriate (if a little non-idiomatic) in the situation where a waiver of some sort were used to facilitate whatever sort of "passage" (literal or figurative) is being discussed. The above usage is most likely an error (or a Britishism) but I could see it being used as a pun of sorts (though probably not in something so formal as the above).
    – Hot Licks
    Mar 28, 2017 at 12:07
  • Hooray, 1000 views! That's a lot of people checking if they should 'wave' or 'waive'. :-) Nov 13, 2019 at 12:48

2 Answers 2


Yes, it is wave something through. "Waive" is probably is a typo here:

to give permission or approval for something immediately and often without checking or considering it properly.

  • Most countries have waved the legislation through.

(MacMillan Dictionary)

Usage Note:

  • Waive is sometimes confused with wave. Waive means ‘refrain from insisting on or demanding’, as in he will waive all rights to the money or her fees would be waived, whereas the much more common word wave means ‘move to and fro’. A waiver is a document recording that a right or claim has been waived, whereas to waver is to move in a quivering way or be undecided between two alternatives.


  • It could be 'waive' depending on the context. For example it could mean they refrained from insisting on or using Mar 28, 2017 at 12:24
  • 4
    Yes. But not with "through."
    – user66974
    Mar 28, 2017 at 12:27
  • they might have made up a phrasal verb? Mar 28, 2017 at 12:37
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    The expression "waived this through" is homophonic with an already well-established expression, redundant in comparison to the original verb "waive" and confusing in its conflation of distinct yet related meanings in a single context. It seems unlikely this wording was intended, given its counterproductive and confusing result. Except perhaps as a pun, as suggested in an earlier comment.
    – remnant
    Mar 28, 2017 at 12:50
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    +1 I agree that this is likely a Guardian typo rather than a deliberate double entendre on the part of Mr. Farron. Apr 5, 2017 at 9:30

The phrase to wave something through, when applied to legislators, is a double entendre.

The main idea is that of waving it past in the sense a traffic policeman might wave on a car.

Merriam-Webster give as meaning 3 of waive, which they describe as an archaic sense,

to shunt aside (as a danger or duty).

There is s sense that, in waving something past, legislators are shunting aside their duty to consider proposed laws on their merits and vote accordingly.

Mr Farron clearly believes that by waving through the legislation triggering the UK's separation from the EU, those MPs who do not believe a hard Brexit is in the nation's best interests. shunted aside their duty to oppose it when it mattered.

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