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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


[yaw] /yɔ/
noun, Pathology.
one of the lesions of yaws.
1735-45; back formation from yaws Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for yaw
Historical Examples
  • The ship began to yaw, to drop away toward the planet below them.

    Planet of the Gods Robert Moore Williams
  • The screw is always edging a ship off, and the lighter the ballast the wider the yaw.

    The Pagan Madonna Harold MacGrath
  • And would a bullet with yaw decrease in velocity to a greater, lesser, or the same extent as a bullet without yaw?

    Warren Commission (5 of 26): Hearings Vol. V (of 15) The President's Commission on the Assassination of President Kennedy
  • The yaw Derevocsid Eht, said everybody who looked at the writing.

  • The large mottled man with the damp moustache looked up gravely over his newspaper: "yaw, der gonductor he also says Peverly."

    The Adventures of a Modest Man Robert W. Chambers
  • Here, pull harder, Steve; you're lettin' her yaw around terrible.

    Afloat on the Flood Lawrence J. Leslie
  • "yaw," was the laconic grunt of the hostler, as he proceeded to unhitch old bald-face from his rigging.

    The Humors of Falconbridge Jonathan F. Kelley
  • "yaw, yaw," replied the spectre-crew, put into motion by the order.

    George Cruikshank's Omnibus George Cruikshank
  • Again he spoke, and at length a monotonous "yaw" proclaimed that they were not dumb.

    Before and after Waterloo Edward Stanley
  • yaw—To swerve from side to side as a vessel does when running free.

    On Yacht Sailing Thomas Fleming Day
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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