A yaw is a swerve off course. On a sailboat, an unexpected yaw can make you lurch to one side — and it might also make you seasick.

Both as a noun and a verb, yaw basically means "swerve or twist." It's most common for this word to be used in discussions of a vehicle's movement, especially ships, airplanes, and spacecraft. A pilot might describe a jet that tends to yaw to the right, while a boat captain might warn her crew that an approaching storm will cause the ship to pitch and yaw. Etymologists believe that yaw and yacht share a root.

Definitions of yaw
  1. noun
    an erratic deflection from an intended course
    synonyms: swerve
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    type of:
    turn, turning
    a movement in a new direction
  2. verb
    deviate erratically from a set course
    “the yawing motion of the ship”
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    yaw back and forth about a flight path
    type of:
    deviate, divert
    turn aside; turn away from
  3. verb
    swerve off course momentarily
    “the ship yawed when the huge waves hit it”
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    type of:
    curve, cut, sheer, slew, slue, swerve, trend, veer
    turn sharply; change direction abruptly
  4. verb
    be wide open
    synonyms: gape, yawn
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    type of:
    have the quality of being; (copula, used with an adjective or a predicate noun)
Word Family

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