I didn’t turn, I veered

An areal view of 287 turning into 820

If you’ve ever traveled the highways and byways of Texas, you will know that entering Ft. Worth via 287 coming from the north can be very confusing (to say the least).  My mom and I were on the second day of our road-trip in December 2010 to visit family in Waxahachie and San Antonio.  We were on 287, which turned into I-35E, which turned into 820 that would eventually take us back to 287 and onward to Waxahachie.  While on one of the clover-leaves of interstate, there was a sign that had an arrow pointing left in order to get onto 287. 

“So you’re going to turn left here, ok?” my mom (the navigator holding the Texas map) said to me from the passenger seat. 

“I’m not going to turn here, I’m going to veer left,” I explained.

“No!  You’re going to turn here!  That’s what the sign says!” mom vehemently pointed out to me.

We had been on the road since that morning where we stayed the previous night at a motel in some no-name north Texas town (I think it was Childress).  During the last leg of our journey, we were ready to be at my brother’s house and the air was a bit “thick” to say the least.  Thus the beginnings of this blog entry!

One of the very confusing clover-leaves of highway Texas is known for

The verb turn, as defined by a very notable source, means: to cause to move around on an axis or about a center or to direct or set one’s course toward, away from, or in a particular direction or an act of changing or reversing the course or direction: to make a turn to the right.  The word turn (as defined in my head) means: a voluntary change in the current forward direction at a ninety degree angle. 

So when I changed the direction of our vehicle, it was not in a ninety degree angle, it was in a forty-five degree angle.  Thus, we veered around an arc following the direction of the road.  I rotated the steering wheel of my car, I did not turn it.  I veered to the left side of the “Y” in the road.  The entire point of veering is because there was a “Y” in the road, not a “T”.  If there was a “T”, it would be considered as turning at a ninety degree angle.  However, it was not a “T”; it was a “Y”.  I merged, adapted, adjusted, alternated, angled off, averted, changed course, deviated, diverged, diverted, drifted, pivoted, skewed, swiveled, swerved, twisted, whirled.  Thus, I did not turn. 

As indicated in the picture below, when a car turns, it follows a very definent 90 degree angle.  However, if the aformentioned car were to veer, it would change direction in any angle under 90 degrees (ie: 1 degree up to 89 degrees).  The entire purpose of a highway cloverleaf is to change one’s direction from one inerstate to another, thus veering in a  less than 90 degree angle.  Now some parts of the cloverleaf, as seen in the above picture, are fashioned in a “tear-drop” formation.  In that case, the inhabitants of the car are gradually veering in a different direction alltogether. 

A computer generated diagram of the difference between a turn and a veer

The two words “turning” and “veering” are often very confusing and mistaken for one another.  Several miles down the road and after much thought and speculation, my mother and I were still of differing opinions as to the difference between a “turn” and a “veer”.  However, because of my recent research, I have concluded that I am in the right (as usual!).  Maybe I was meant to be an attorney or maybe I was just meant to work for the Department of Transportation.  I will never know! 

What are your opinions on the difference between these two words?  I would like to receive some feedback on the matter.


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