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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for yawing

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

Examples from the Web for yawing

Historical Examples of yawing

  • It had been yawing off that compass all the way from a point to a point and a half.

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

    Treasure Island

    Robert Louis Stevenson

  • The wind was steady, and as we ran before it there was no yawing.


    Bram Stoker

  • Steer a steady course there at the wheel—you're yawing all round the compass!

    The North Pacific

    Willis Boyd Allen

  • But what yawing about she made of it when she came with a stranger at the helm!

British Dictionary definitions for yawing


  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 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