Has “segway” become an acceptable substitute for “segue”?

The answer to that question is, sadly, yes. However, that is not because these words have the same meaning. Rather, it is because they sound alike and because the art of spelling and grammar usage is quickly being lost in our modern world.

The older term of the two is “segue.” Pronounced “sayg – way”, it comes from the Italian language and literally means “there/it follows.” In modern English, we have taken this term and turned it into both a verb and a noun.

segue (verb): to transition smoothly from one thing to the next
segue (noun): a smooth transition

The confusion began when a very creative company created a mobility device and named it the Segway. This name was purposely chosen to sound exactly like the word “segue” to communicate the smooth movement of this transportation method. However, its spelling was much more phonetic. This made it easy for customers to know how to pronounce the name of the product. Having a difficult to pronounce name is bad for any business.

While the transportation device has been helpful and entertaining for many, it has also served to obscure the spelling of the original word. More and more people today are not educated in the art of correct spelling. Furthermore, our brains prefer to spell words phonetically.

Thus, in our modern world, you may indeed see someone use the word “segway” when he really meant “segue.” Languages do evolve over time and it appears this is yet another example.


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