Used to express woe or distress.
n. pl. well·a·ways
[Middle English, alteration (influenced by well, well awai, away) of Old English weilāwei, alteration (influenced by Old Scandinavian *wei, woe) of wā lā wā : wā, woe; see woe + lā, lo; see lo.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
archaic woe! alas!
[Old English, from wei lā wei, variant of wā lā wā, literally: woe! lo woe]
Archaic. (used to express sorrow.)
[before 900; Middle English we(i)lawei, Old English weilāwei (wei < Scandinavian; compare Old Norse vei woe), replacing Old English wā lā wā woe! lo! woe!]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.