\ ˈyȯ How to pronounce yaw (audio) \

Definition of yaw

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the action of yawing especially : a side-to-side movement
2 : the extent of the movement in yawing


yawed; yawing; yaws

Definition of yaw (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a of a ship : to deviate erratically from a course (as when struck by a heavy sea) especially : to move from side to side
b of an airplane, spacecraft, or projectile : to turn by angular motion about the vertical axis
2 : alternate restlessly yawing between apparent extremes— Martin Kasindorf

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for yaw

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Did you know?


In the heyday of large sailing ships, numerous nautical words appeared on the horizon, many of which have origins that have never been traced. "Yaw" is one such word. It began showing up in print in the 16th century, first as a noun (meaning "movement off course" or "side to side movement") and then as a verb. For more than 350 years it remained a sailing word, with occasional side trips to the figurative sense "to alternate." Then dawned the era of airplane flight in the early 20th century, and "yawing" was no longer confined to the sea. Nowadays, people who love boats still use "yaw" much as did the sailing-men of old, but pilots and rocket scientists also refer to the "yawing" of their crafts.

Examples of yaw in a Sentence

Noun Sensors measure the pitch and yaw of the plane. The airplane's rudder is used to control yaw. Verb the ship yawed hard to the right when the rogue wave hit it broadside
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This firms up the suspension response and asks more of the electric motors, working together with the magnetic dampers to control yaw during cornering. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 12 Mar. 2020 One of the men was afflicted with the virus that causes hepatitis B, and another had a bacterium that causes the skin infection yaws, a disease similar to syphilis. New York Times, 1 May 2020 Another individual was infected with the bacterium Treponema pallidum pertenue that causes yaws, a chronic infection of skin, bone and cartilage. Fox News, 1 May 2020 One had the hepatitis B virus, and the other carried the bacterium that causes yaws, a disease in the same family as syphilis. Lizzie Wade, Science | AAAS, 30 Apr. 2020 Every man in the ship would have an intuitive sense of the weather after rising, feeling the pitch and yaw of the ship in the harsh seas. James G. Stavridis, New York Times, 14 Apr. 2020 This creates a steering effect on the rear axle, increasing yaw to help a car rotate through a corner. David Beard, Car and Driver, 22 Feb. 2020 In low speed flight yaw was controlled by varying the turboprops' propeller pitch via rudder pedals. Eric Tegler, Ars Technica, 16 Feb. 2020 Through this method, India became yaws-free in 2016, though the emergence of antibiotic resistance in the spirochete may complicate efforts. Quanta Magazine, 3 Dec. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Air was not flowing smoothly over the F-14's wings while it was configured for landing, creating an opportunity for the plane to suddenly yaw left or right. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 15 Aug. 2017 A video shows the helicopter lifting off and then yawing — or twisting — to the left nearly one full rotation before rising out of view. Jesse Paul, The Denver Post, 28 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'yaw.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of yaw


1546, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for yaw


origin unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About yaw

Listen to Our Podcast About yaw

Dictionary Entries Near yaw




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for yaw

Cite this Entry

“Yaw.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/yaw. Accessed 23 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for yaw



English Language Learners Definition of yaw

: movement of an airplane, ship, etc., to the left or right especially : unwanted left or right movement


\ ˈyȯ How to pronounce yaw (audio) \
yawed; yawing

Kids Definition of yaw

: to turn suddenly from a straight course The boat yawed in heavy seas.


\ ˈyȯ How to pronounce yaw (audio) \

Medical Definition of yaw

: one of the lesions characteristic of yaws — see mother yaw

More from Merriam-Webster on yaw

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about yaw


Test Your Vocabulary

Dog Words Quiz

  • shiba puppy more or less demanding cuddles
  • Which of the following animals has a dog in its etymology?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!