Word + Quiz: yaw

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Word + Quiz: yaw

noun: an erratic deflection from an intended course

verb: deviate erratically from a set course

verb: swerve off course momentarily

verb: be wide open

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The word yaw has appeared in 10 articles on NYTimes.com in the past year, including on April 15 in “How the World’s Squarest Fish Gets Around” by Cara Giaimo:

In 2015, a group of researchers, including Mr. Boute’s two co-authors, published a study suggesting that these carapaces make the bodies of some boxfish species inherently unstable in the water. (Other studies have come to the opposite conclusion, saying that ridges on the carapace actually help with stability.)

If that’s the case, the fins not only propel and steer the fish but steady it, too, Mr. Boute said. Based on previous studies, as well as his own underwater observations, he figured the tail fin was “quite important” for modulating yaw — swerving motions that occur in the horizontal plane. (When a car hits black ice and fishtails, for example, it’s experiencing yaw.)

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