What do we call the movement when a hovering object slightly changes it's horizontal position all the time (because the airflow value changes or the power to engines changes)?

I mean imaging a helicopter that has two turbines on its sides (hovercopter). It lifts when the turbines work fast and dips when they work slower. But the turbine power isn't constant so there is always a slight change in the rotary motion.

What if the movement changes significantly. For instance when such a hovercopter travels along an uneven plane? When there's a rise it lifts by an almost exactly the same height as the rise itself. When there's a deepening or a hole it dips by an almost exactly the same depth as the deepening or hole. Would this action have a different name or would it be the same as for a slight change?

  • It is called hovering. You're already using the word which means to maintain a relatively stationary position in the air. The hovering object may dip or rise slightly, or change horizontal positions a little.
    – TimR
    Aug 23, 2017 at 11:58
  • youtube.com/watch?v=bxJBKWu7Jlw
    – TimR
    Aug 23, 2017 at 12:05
  • Unfortunately, I can't watch the video "The uploader has not made this video available in your country." Aug 23, 2017 at 12:07
  • Ah, that's too bad; it is a slow-motion video of a kestrel hovering, Revealing Kestrel Flight, by Sir David Attenborough.
    – TimR
    Aug 23, 2017 at 12:11
  • Maybe you could try a proxy server?
    – TimR
    Aug 23, 2017 at 12:13

1 Answer 1


This motion is like something floating on top of water - so similar words will work, such as bob or wave.

  • Yeh, I've heard the word bob. Can I use it in this context? Aug 23, 2017 at 13:12
  • Bob will work.
    – LawrenceC
    Aug 23, 2017 at 13:24
  • How could we be specific here, please? Movement up and down is vertical, isn't it? Whatever we call it when an object changes its horizontal position that isn’t vertical, is it? Aug 23, 2017 at 23:35
  • You'd have to say bob up and down or bob vertically. Try the term nodding like one would do with their head when motioning "yes" to someone. Possibly you could say, if the up and down movement is significant, that the helicopter is experiencing a loose hover or hovering loosely.
    – LawrenceC
    Aug 24, 2017 at 11:19

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