Yaw Mamma

Turns out there is a whole bunch of words describing movement.
I always wondered why in aviation lingo rotation in X, Y and Z axes (yah, that’s right, I looked up the plural of axis in a dictionary) is called roll, pitch and yaw. Roll and pitch I can understand. But what is the deal with yaw? Is it related to “yawn”?

This Usenet post provided the following tidbits:
Merriam-Webster’s “Word of the Day”:
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.

Some dictionaries say that it may be from the Old Norse, jaga, meaning to bend.

American Heritage says “Perhaps of Scandinavian origin”.

Websters Revised Unabridged gives the German gagen (to rock), the Norwegian gaga (to bend backward), the Icelandic gagr and gaga (bent back, throw the neck back).

Gaga? Gugu? Give me a break. A fricking mystery.

What’s more, is that searching for this information I learned that movement along X, Y and Z in ships is called surge, slip (or sway) , and heave.

Also, in the book about surgical knots that I am reading (I have a huge interest in knots), they describe a whole damn system of names for directions and movements.
For instance, proximal means toward, distal means away. Palmar means the palm side of the hand and dorsal means the back of the hand. Then there is flexion, extension, pronation and supination which mean bending, straightening, rotating left and rotating right. Whew.

Interestingly enough, I don’t find surgical knots to be any harder then fishing knots. Actually the knot I use the most in fishing is of a surgical origin (it’s even called the surgeon’s knot). And it’s the easiest strong knot that I know.