\ 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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for yaw

Synonyms: Verb

Antonyms: Verb

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun An instructor pilot with 1,156.2 hours in the T-38C, 41 of them at night, Palyok observed the airplane yaw to the right 4 degrees and begin to roll in the same direction, and realized the problem was a compressor stall. Sig Christenson, ExpressNews.com, "After a loud buzzing, T-38 crew in Del Rio had seconds to act," 17 June 2019 Active yaw control, featuring a twin-clutch rear differential, keeps the Blazer level through the corners. Andrew Moseman, Popular Mechanics, "2019 Chevy Blazer Test Drive: What Happened When GM Tried To Make the Crossover Cool," 4 Feb. 2019 Making small yaw adjustments is easy, and, even though the pedals’ dead zone is configurable via Thrustmaster’s TARGET software, the default settings are quite pleasant. Lee Hutchinson, Ars Technica, "Thrustmaster TPR: The best flight sim pedals you can buy in a store like a normal person," 23 Sep. 2018 Teams generally build vertical and horizontal stabilizers on the back of their subs with flaps to let the pilot control pitch and yaw. Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "The Preposterous World of Human-Powered Submarine Racing," 9 Aug. 2017 This will provide no stability, specifically in yaw, or sway. Mike Allen, Popular Mechanics, "How to Tow a Trailer," 6 Jan. 2017 Her own research has led her to suspect that the treponema bacteria originated in the New World, manifesting as yaws and spread through skin-to-skin contact exposed by a warm climate. National Geographic, "Syphilis DNA Pulled From Colonial-Era Bones," 21 June 2018 Each drive mode recalibrates how the MagnaRide dampers adapt to the car in motion, sampling data from wheel speed sensors, pitch, roll, yaw, and a list of other sensors all via the CANbus at 1,000Hz. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "We went to drive the new Ford Mustang—but a tornado messed things up," 17 May 2018 This yaw assist — or torque vectoring — helps the Enclave steer with more stability and less front-tire scrub. Malcolm Gunn, courant.com, "2018 Buick Enclave," 17 May 2018 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, "Watch This F-14 Tomcat Spin Out of Control," 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, "Flight For Life helicopter crash in Frisco that killed pilot was caused by hydraulic issue, NTSB finds," 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for yaw

The first known use of yaw was in 1546

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More Definitions for yaw


How to pronounce yaw (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of yaw

technical : 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for yaw

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with yaw

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about yaw

Comments on yaw

What made you want to look up yaw? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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