Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 12, 2020 is:
yaw • YAW • verb
1 a 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 : to change from one to another repeatedly : alternate
“A crane had been brought in to lift the submersible from the truck onto the raft.… Even with its heavy load the raft pitched and yawed as it was towed along.” — Clive Cussler and Paul Kemprecos, Blue Gold, 2000
“All told, even as the U.S. GDP has grown, our air and water have become cleaner. And while policies yawed between Democratic and Republican administrations, the long-term trend has been toward stronger and better controls that have not, despite the dire warnings from the pro-business sector, crippled the economy.” — editorial, The Los Angeles Times, 22 Apr. 2020
Did you know?
In the heyday of large sailing ships, numerous nautical words appeared on the horizon. Yaw is one such word. Its origin isn’t exactly known, but it began turning 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 centuries, it remained a sailing word—often alongside pitch (“to have the front end rise and fall”)—with occasional extended use as a synonym of the verb alternate. When the era of airplane flight dawned, much of the vocabulary of sailing found new life in aeronautics, and “yawing” was no longer confined to the sea. Nowadays, yaw, pitch, and roll are just as likely to be used by pilots and rocket scientists to describe the motion of their crafts.