right of way

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(the) right of way

1. The right to pass over or cut through property that is privately owned by someone else. Because I bought this land from government, they have right of way in certain portions.
2. The legal right to travel in front or across the path of another vehicle. At an intersection with four stop signs, the person who arrived first has right of way. Pedestrians always have the right of way at these designated crosswalks.
See also: of, right, way
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

right of way

1. The right of one person or vehicle to travel over another's property, as in The new owner doesn't like it, but hikers have had the right of way through these woods for decades . [Mid-1700s]
2. The right to precede another person or vehicle, as in Sailboats always have the right of way over motorboats, and swimmers do over any kind of boat . [Early 1900s]
See also: of, right, way
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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References in periodicals archive ?
But category 3 and 4 rights of ways - those used only occasionally and those with "no obvious benefit or potential" - will be sidelined.
Viv Knight, EGB secretary, said: "Many of us have bridleways and rights of ways near to where we live that are overgrown, have poor gates, no signs, and uncooperative landowners who do not like horse riders.
Nigel Jones, of the Countryside Agency, said: 'If we can improve the quality of the routes and rights of ways and enhance the overall quality of the visitor experience it will undoubtedly boost our regional economy.'
Clr Bolt said: "One of the housing areas which was built many years ago has rights of way all across the land as it was never diverted by the developer.
But, the rights of ways will be maintained, thus fracturing contiguous habitat, limiting wildlife populations and severely regulating access, even by property owners.