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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
1540-50; origin uncertain Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for yawing
Historical Examples
  • It had been yawing off that compass all the way from a point to a point and a half.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • The wind was steady, and as we ran before it there was no yawing.

    Dracula Bram Stoker
  • She headed nearly due south, yawing, of course, all the time.

    Treasure Island Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Bill Ware had let go the wheel, and the vessel was yawing round.

    Latitude 19 degree Mrs. Schuyler Crowninshield
  • Directly afterwards the French frigate ran up on our larboard and lee quarter, and yawing rapidly, fired into us.

    Will Weatherhelm W.H.G. Kingston
  • He immediately ran down, hoisting the French ensign, and yawing a little to show it.

  • Slowly the struggling Revenge dropped astern, yawing wildly, rolling her bulwarks under, splintered spars dangling from the caps.

    Blackbeard: Buccaneer Ralph D. Paine
  • A lumbering old lighter with a yawing derrick passed close aboard.

    Blow The Man Down Holman Day
  • I suppose they didn't want to lose ground by yawing, but as they came abreast of us they both opened fire.

  • Only Biddle's prompt action had saved the ship from yawing and presenting her broadside to the pursuer.

British Dictionary definitions for yawing


(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 yawing



"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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