Log In

Come Join Us!

Are you a
Computer / IT professional?
Join Tek-Tips Forums!
  • Talk With Other Members
  • Be Notified Of Responses
    To Your Posts
  • Keyword Search
  • One-Click Access To Your
    Favorite Forums
  • Automated Signatures
    On Your Posts
  • Best Of All, It's Free!
  • Students Click Here

*Tek-Tips's functionality depends on members receiving e-mail. By joining you are opting in to receive e-mail.

Posting Guidelines

Promoting, selling, recruiting, coursework and thesis posting is forbidden.

Students Click Here


"Weaved" vs. "Wove"

"Weaved" vs. "Wove"

"Weaved" vs. "Wove"

I have been following thread1256-1540679: "Lighted" vs. "Lit".  In today's (2009-04-04) World Wide Words newsletter, there was a question about "weaved" versus "wove":

Quote (World Wide Words newsletter):

Q. In a recent issue you included a quote from a newspaper: "Shelby weaved through traffic." Am I old-fashioned to want to use the word "wove"?  Perhaps you have written about how certain past tenses have gone to the "-ed" form from an older format for making a verb past tense? Or is this the proper word because it isn't particular to creating cloth? [Anne Umphrey]

A. Your second guess is the correct one. The reason why there are two different past tenses is that there are actually two different verbs here, though at times - such as in this case - their senses are sufficiently close to cause confusion.

The older one - to form cloth by interlacing strands - refers to such an ancient technique that the word for it can be traced back through Old English to a prehistoric Indo-European root that was later taken into Greek and Sanskrit. It has retained the way of forming the past tense that was once often found in Old English verbs. The method was to change the internal vowel in a standard way, a process called ablaut or gradation, in this case "weave" changing to "wove". Some 70 such verbs survive in English today, including "drive", "sing", "come", and "grow". Grammarians call these strong verbs, a term invented by the German grammarian and folklorist Jacob Grimm; it remains the standard way to describe them, although it's unsatisfactory and obscure.

A big shift happened in Middle English between about 1100 and 1500. Many strong verbs became weak, forming their past tenses in "-ed" or "-t", depending on the ending of the stem. To take just two examples: "glide", which had had the Old English strong form "glode" as the past tense, came to use "glided" instead; "help" changed its past tense from "halp" to "helped". Only the commonest retained their strong forms. Verbs that form their past tenses by adding one of these endings are said to be weak, another term invented by Jacob Grimm.

The verb in the quotation - to twist and turn from side to side to avoid obstructions while moving in some direction or other - is from a different source to the other "weave". It derives from the Old Norse word "veifa", to wave or brandish. In Middle English it was spelled "weve" and may be a relative of our modern "wave". "Weve" vanished from the written language but survived in dialect; it reappeared in books in the late sixteenth century with the spelling changed to "weave", almost certainly through the influence of the other verb. By the time it started to be used in writing again, the weak form had become dominant and this version of "weave" followed the trend, making "weaved".

A very few verbs retain both forms, causing some confusion; the classic case is "hang", in which pictures are hung but people are hanged. "Weave" is sometimes said to be another example of this multiple tense disorder but it's actually a confusion between two words of the same spelling from different sources.

World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2009. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewords.org .

Want to ask the best questions?  Read Eric S. Raymond's essay "How To Ask Questions The Smart Way".  TANSTAAFL!

RE: "Weaved" vs. "Wove"

Very interesting!  Especially since I'm a weaver - as in I weave cloth.


A computer only does what you actually told it to do - not what you thought you told it to do.

RE: "Weaved" vs. "Wove"

That is quite interesting.  Thanks for posting it!

RE: "Weaved" vs. "Wove"

Very interesting article!  A couple of other verbs that come to mind: dive and dove or dived, spit and spat or spit.  I would say that the former is possibly in a similar state of transition that the article mentions with glode and halp, whereas perhaps the latter is a regional colloquialism.   

RE: "Weaved" vs. "Wove"

Pleaded or pled?

Ever notice how fast Windows runs? Me neither.

Red Flag This Post

Please let us know here why this post is inappropriate. Reasons such as off-topic, duplicates, flames, illegal, vulgar, or students posting their homework.

Red Flag Submitted

Thank you for helping keep Tek-Tips Forums free from inappropriate posts.
The Tek-Tips staff will check this out and take appropriate action.

Reply To This Thread

Posting in the Tek-Tips forums is a member-only feature.

Click Here to join Tek-Tips and talk with other members!

Close Box

Join Tek-Tips® Today!

Join your peers on the Internet's largest technical computer professional community.
It's easy to join and it's free.

Here's Why Members Love Tek-Tips Forums:

Register now while it's still free!

Already a member? Close this window and log in.

Join Us             Close