Why do we use "Way Out" instead of "Exit"?

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jamesontheroad

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It's a fairly inane question, I know, but I was reminded of it when I came back to the UK after two weeks in the USA. Why is it that British railway stations use the phrase "Way Out" instead of "Exit" on station signage? Surely "exit" is a more useful and comprehendible word for non-English speakers?
 
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Greenback

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It's a fairly inane question, I know, but I was reminded of it when I came back to the UK after two weeks in the USA. Why is it that British railway stations use the phrase "Way Out" instead of "Exit" on station signage? Surely "exit" is a more useful and comprehendible word for non-English speakers?

Surely the international symbol for the way out would be even more useful and comprehendible for non English speakers!
 

route:oxford

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Generally isn't "Way Out" for business as usual and "Exit" for emergencies?

Not sure about Ingress and Egress though...
 

HowMuch?

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I'm not in favour of English adopting Americanisms. But I agree that for people from LOTS of nations, Exit is more likely to be understood than Way Out.

"Way Out" is a bit odd when you think about it. "Way In" is rather less common, and very very few places have signs saying Way Up or Way Down.
 

Green Lane

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I must admit I found myself also pondering this after I saw the term "Way Out" in one of those British to American English on-line glossaries. Until then it had never really occurred to me that the term was peculiar to the UK.

I know "Way Out" was used even back in Victorian times. On this Lumière brothers footage filmed in 1896, you can see the term used on signage at Princes Dock station on the Liverpool Overhead Railway. (At around 2:50 into the video) No doubt there are even older photographs available!

[youtube]_i5ApsjD46o[/youtube]
 

ex-railwayman

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It's a fairly inane question, I know, but I was reminded of it when I came back to the UK after two weeks in the USA. Why is it that British railway stations use the phrase "Way Out" instead of "Exit" on station signage? Surely "exit" is a more useful and comprehendible word for non-English speakers?

I personally think in the 1930's/40's/50's we had large signs at railway stations with a hand/arm, or, arrow, pointing the way down a long platform saying 'This Way Out' which was easy for folks to see and understand, especially in the war years when you didn't want to hang about, possibly someone in his/her infinite wisdom decided to shorten the phrase more recently to Way Out and it's stuck ever since, and is one word less for printers to publish on signs, especially, for car parks, and suchlike.

Cheerz. ex-railwayman.
 

DaveNewcastle

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So many features of buildings have latin names (such as atrium, auditorium, portico, proscenium, etc.) we could always adopt the Latin term for a way out:-

vomitorium

(There's a widespread belief that a vomitorium was a place where people who had eaten too much did what the name implies in current English useage, even among some Oxbridge Classics graduates. Sadly for those who enjoy toilet humour, it simply refers to the feature which allows people to flow out of the building en masse.)
 

hairyhandedfool

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All of the places I can think of atm where there is a "way out" it has also been a 'way in', but atm I can't think of an "exit" which is also an "entrance".
 

PHILIPE

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In the Welsh language there is just one word to mean the two to simplify things - ALLANFA and if we want to discuss WayIn/Entrance - MYNEDFA.
Thsee would be found on bi-lingual signs within Wales.
 
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Ploughman

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It's a fairly inane question, I know, but I was reminded of it when I came back to the UK after two weeks in the USA. Why is it that British railway stations use the phrase "Way Out" instead of "Exit" on station signage? Surely "exit" is a more useful and comprehendible word for non-English speakers?

The answer is simple and contained in your question.

It's because we are English and therefore we are different to the rest of the Americanised world.
 
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SS4

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GTFO (or what it stands for) would be far more interesting :lol:

Entrances usually aren't marked because it's blindingly obvious. Where it's meant to be an exit there is a sign saying no entry or the pictorial version. Once you're in the station the signage points to the various places.
When leaving the train you want to get everyone out ASAP and exit usually implies one leaves the building whereas Way Out is a route to the exit.

This topic reminded me of the designer who did the signs at Bank in the latest Tube series. ;)
 

Gareth

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The answer is simple and contained in your question.

It's because we are English and therefore we are different to the rest of the Americanised world.

I don't see what's so American about 'exit'. It seems a perfectly valid English language word to me. Not that a word should be automatically invalid just because it has an American origin. English is an increasingly global language and some of the twee "we're English" stuff can be a bit silly sometimes.
 

WatcherZero

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It makes more sense 'way' as in guiding where as 'exit' for the portal itself. For example your in a cinema, one sign will say 'way out' to guide you back to the lobby while another will say 'emergency exit' telling you its a direct portal to outside only for use in emergencies.
 

LE Greys

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I always thought that 'Way Out' pre-dated 'Exit' by a considerable margin. I've seen it engraved on stones that obviously date back to the construction of many stations, can't remember which, but definitely GER. Not sure when 'Exit' first appeared, but BR decided to stick to tradition with their new signage in Rail Alphabet days, and nobody ever bothered to change it.
 
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