The term highway includes any public road. This is an unpaved highway in Northern England.

An Autobahn in Lehrte, near Hanover, Germany—a busy, high-capacity motorway.
The Evitamiento Highway, in Lima, Peru.
The I-75/I-85 Downtown Connector in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States
A photo
Cyclists on Highway M-185 in the US state of Michigan
King Faisal Highway, Manama, Bahrain
Highway near Bangalore, India
Delhi Noida Flyway in India
The Dukhan Highway going between Doha and Dukhan, in Qatar

A highway is any public or private road or other public way on land. It is used for major roads, but also includes other public roads and public tracks: It is not an equivalent term to controlled-access highway, or a translation for autobahn, autoroute, etc.

According to Merriam Webster, the use of the term predates 12th century. According to Etyomonline, "high" is in the sense of "main".

In North American and Australian English, major roads such as controlled-access highways or arterial roads are often state highways (Canada: provincial highways). Other roads may be designated "county highways" in the US and Ontario. These classifications refer to the level of government (state, provincial, county) that maintains the roadway.

In British English, "highway" is primarily a legal term. Everyday use normally implies roads, while the legal use covers any route or path with a public right of access, including footpaths etc.

The term has led to several related derived terms, including highway system, highway code, highway patrol and highwayman.

The term highway exists in distinction to "waterway".


Major highways are often named and numbered by the governments that typically develop and maintain them. Australia's Highway 1 is the longest national highway in the world at over 14,500 km or 9,000 mi and runs almost the entire way around the continent. China has the world's largest network of highways followed closely by the United States of America. Some highways, like the Pan-American Highway or the European routes, span multiple countries. Some major highway routes include ferry services, such as U.S. Route 10, which crosses Lake Michigan.

Traditionally highways were used by people on foot or on horses. Later they also accommodated carriages, bicycles and eventually motor cars, facilitated by advancements in road construction. In the 1920s and 1930s, many nations began investing heavily in progressively more modern highway systems to spur commerce and bolster national defense.

Major modern highways that connect cities in populous developed and developing countries usually incorporate features intended to enhance the road's capacity, efficiency, and safety to various degrees. Such features include a reduction in the number of locations for user access, the use of dual carriageways with two or more lanes on each carriageway, and grade-separated junctions with other roads and modes of transport. These features are typically present on highways built as motorways (freeways).

Other Languages
Ænglisc: Hēahstrǣt
العربية: طريق سريع
Bân-lâm-gú: Chhia-lō͘
Deutsch: Highway
eesti: Maantee
فارسی: بزرگ‌راه
한국어: 간선도로
हिन्दी: राजमार्ग
বিষ্ণুপ্রিয়া মণিপুরী: হাইৱেইজ
Bahasa Indonesia: Jalan bebas hambatan
Bahasa Melayu: Lebuh raya
नेपाली: राजमार्ग
नेपाल भाषा: हाइवेज
日本語: 公道
Nouormand: Câochie
ਪੰਜਾਬੀ: ਸ਼ਾਹਰਾਹ
português: Rodovia
Simple English: Highway
Soomaaliga: Wadoweyn
کوردی: شاڕێگە
suomi: Maantie
اردو: شاہراہ
Tiếng Việt: Xa lộ
吴语: 车路
ייִדיש: שטראז
粵語: 公路
中文: 公路