Learn English – the meaning of “gather way” in “The idea gathered way”


As far as I know "gather way" means "to attain headway" in navigation. So I believe this is a kind of idiom or something like that.
I just found this sentence with no context, so I don't know if you could help me with the meaning of it.

Best Answer

As you already know, "to gather way" is a nautical term that means to begin to move or to move with increasing speed. (To attain headway.)

Without context (you said their wasn't any), I have to imagine that it is perfectly natural for someone in my own boat club to use the phrase "the idea gathered way" to mean that the idea picked up momentum.

The notion that ideas have momentum is not unheard of, especially among people who pay a lot of respect to the process of ideation. Here is one example, in an article titled "The Momentum of Ideas", taken from the New York Times quoting Newt Gingrich:

I’m a very idea-oriented candidate. And I think the Internet makes it possible to create a momentum of ideas that’s very, very exciting.

Another metaphor similar (but not identical) to "momentum of ideas" might be "avalanche of ideas". These bring to mind that the ideas, once they have been conceived, have an unstoppable power, being able to move of their own accord.