See more synonyms for yaw on Thesaurus.com
verb (used without object)
  1. to deviate temporarily from a straight course, as a ship.
  2. (of an aircraft) to have a motion about its vertical axis.
  3. (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)
  1. to cause to yaw.
  1. a movement of deviation from a direct course, as of a ship.
  2. a motion of an aircraft about its vertical axis.
  3. 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.
  4. (of a rocket or guided missile)
    1. the act of yawing.
    2. the angular displacement of the longitudinal axis due to yawing.

Origin of yaw

First recorded in 1540–50; origin uncertain


noun Pathology.
  1. one of the lesions of yaws.

Origin of yaw

First recorded in 1735–45; back formation from yaws
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for yaw

swerve, veer, curve, zigzag, turn, weave, deviate, bank, slue, unsteady

Examples from the Web for yaw

Historical Examples of yaw

  • 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.

British Dictionary definitions for yaw


  1. (intr) (of an aircraft, missile, etc) to turn about its vertical axisCompare pitch 1 (def. 11), roll (def. 14)
  2. (intr) (of a ship, etc) to deviate temporarily from a straight course
  3. (tr) to cause (an aircraft, ship, etc) to yaw
  1. the angular movement of an aircraft, missile, etc, about its vertical axis
  2. the deviation of a vessel from a straight course

Word Origin for yaw

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

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