- When a vessel is moving or in motion over the bottom. Usually back or forth.
Probably earlier than the 16th century. The term “underway” appeared in the 17th century. From Middle and Old English, weg, same meaning and is thought to have first applied to ships.
There’s no way like underway, as they say. If your boat isn’t making way, then it’s probably moored at the pier, at anchor, in drydock, engines stopped, becalmed, dead in the water, run aground, or lying on the bottom.
Making way is preferable.
Rogers, J.G. (1985). Origins of Sea Terms. Mystic Seaport Museum.