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[yaw] /yɔ/
verb (used without object)
to deviate temporarily from a straight course, as a ship.
(of an aircraft) to have a motion about its vertical axis.
(of a rocket or guided missile) to deviate from a stable flight attitude by oscillation of the longitudinal axis in the horizontal plane.
verb (used with object)
to cause to yaw.
a movement of deviation from a direct course, as of a ship.
a motion of an aircraft about its vertical axis.
an angle, to the right or left, determined by the direction of motion of an aircraft or spacecraft and its vertical and longitudinal plane of symmetry.
  1. the act of yawing.
  2. the angular displacement of the longitudinal axis due to yawing.
Origin of yaw1
First recorded in 1540-50; origin uncertain


[yaw] /yɔ/
noun, Pathology.
one of the lesions of yaws.
First recorded in 1735-45; back formation from yaws Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for yaw
Historical Examples
  • The screw is always edging a ship off, and the lighter the ballast the wider the yaw.

    The Pagan Madonna Harold MacGrath
  • The yaw Derevocsid Eht, said everybody who looked at the writing.

  • Here, pull harder, Steve; you're lettin' her yaw around terrible.

    Afloat on the Flood

    Lawrence J. Leslie
  • It was as large as a silver dollar, that yaw, and it took all of three weeks to heal.

  • "yaw, yaw," replied the spectre-crew, put into motion by the order.

    George Cruikshank's Omnibus George Cruikshank
  • Take a Swede or a Dutchman: it's yaw yaw with them to the end of their time.

    My Danish Sweetheart., Volume 2 of 3 William Clark Russell
  • The Chins in the valley of the yaw and its tributaries were raiders.

    The Pacification of Burma

    Sir Charles Haukes Todd Crosthwaite
  • yaw—To swerve from side to side as a vessel does when running free.

    On Yacht Sailing Thomas Fleming Day
  • I will yaw the ship, and as your guns come to bear, slap it right into his bows.

    Tom Cringle's Log Michael Scott
  • As the ship jumped and began to yaw, she was thrown across the cabin.

    Sinister Paradise Robert Moore Williams
British Dictionary definitions for yaw


(intransitive) (of an aircraft, missile, etc) to turn about its vertical axis Compare pitch1 (sense 11), roll (sense 14)
(intransitive) (of a ship, etc) to deviate temporarily from a straight course
(transitive) to cause (an aircraft, ship, etc) to yaw
the angular movement of an aircraft, missile, etc, about its vertical axis
the deviation of a vessel from a straight course
Word Origin
C16: of unknown origin
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for yaw

"to fall away from the line of a course," 1540s, from Old Norse jaga, Old Danish jæge "to drive, chase," from Middle Low German jagen (see yacht).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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