Q on directions: N-NE vs. E-NE?

What is the technical meaning of N-NE vs. E-NE? What is the difference? If North assumed to be 0 degrees, and E is 90 degrees…then NE = 45 degrees. So, I WAG
N-NE means > 0 and < 22.25 whereas E-NE would be > 22.25 and < 45 degrees?

Is this correct?

  • Jinx

No, that’s not right, because E-NE (east-northeast) would have to be more than 45 degrees. I would tend to say…

N-NE: 11.25 - 33.75
E-NE: 56.25 - 78.75

This is based on dividing the compass up into 16 equal sections, which would be, in order clockwise from north
Hope that helps.

N = 0 degrees
NNE = 22.5 degrees
NE = 45 degrees
ENE = 67.5 degrees
E = 90 degrees

ENE and NNE are specific directions, not a range.

NNE means the *north * side of northeast, ENE means the *east * side of northeast.

Wikipedia on Boxing the Compass.

Here is a decent site on the history of and using a compass.

The use of degrees is fairly recent and prior to that time, mariners used descriptive words to identify direction. Given the problems of tacking, wind drift, and other issues (such as illiteracy), compasses were not made to such exacting standards as to allow 360° display and the 32 points of the “boxed” compass were the units used to identify direction. (I have heard directions given as “North Northeast, a quarter East” (which would give 25.3125°), but I do not know how regular such usage would have been.

As tomndebb’s link says, if North is 0° and East is 90°, then Northeast is 45°. Halfway between North and Northeast, at 22,5°, is North-Northeast, and halfway between Northeast and East, at 67.5°, is East-Northeast. Halfway between North and North-Northeast, at 11.25°, is “North by East” (because it’s North with a bit to the East). Halfway between North-Northeast and Northeast, at 33.75°, is “Northeast by North” (because it’s Northeast with a bit to the North). Halfway between Northeast and Eath-Northeast, at 56.25°, is “Northeast by East,” because it’s Northeast with a bit to the East, and so on.

This is a fairly good way of putting it. Consider that Northeast is the direction halfway between North and East. Then North-northeast is the direction halfway between North and Northeast; East-northeast is the direction halfway between Northeast and East; and so on.

So on the 360-degree clockwise mode of stating directions, North is 0° and East 90°. Northeast is 45° and Southeast 135°. North-northeast is 22.5° and East-northeast is 67.5°.

Now I understand why car compasses don’t include these off directions: not enough of you understand them to make it worth the effort. It irritates me to see my mirror indicating NE when I know for a fact it’s more NNE.

Eh. I live in a part of the country where the distinction between N and E is too subtle

So Alfred Hitchcock was way off the mark - there is no such thing as North by Northwest!!

Or was there some subtle implication meant by this choice of words?

They flew Northwest Airlines

North by Northwest is another way of saying North-Northwest.

Is it? That would ruin the self-consistent methodology of compass-point naming given in the Boxing the Compass link given by tomndebb above.

But they didn’t fly North via Northwest Airlines.

I have on occasion thought that the movie’s name was a reference to Hamlet’s line:

since there are some (tenuous, perhaps) plot parallels between the two works.

Here is an excerpt from a guy who seems to think that there are shoutouts to Hamlet all over NxNW, but he may be taking things a little far…

Look at 31 in the link
31. North-northwest NNW 337 .50°

oopse, sorry, see that by has a special meaning in the boxed compass. I guess that when the boxed compass weant out of use the by lost it’s meaning.

I see the Hamlet quote is “I am but mad North-NorthWest” which is correct terminology using boxed compass.

What I meant is that flight’s simple assertion that:

would suggest that the word “by” is interchangeable with concatenation.

tomndebb’s link shows, however, that (for example) “South by West” and “Southwest” are not at all the same, which would tend to refute flight’s claim. I was asking flight for some confirmation of his assertion, without going quite so far as to call “Cite?”.

[and, on preview, I see that you’ve already “oopse’d” your previous comment, but I’ll post this anyway!]

A bit of a search finds that it is in common use, particularly for orienteering. See here and here.

It seems like some people also use it to mean “the eihgth of the compass between those two directions,” though. As the word “by” is not ever used between, say, west and northwest in your scheme I do not see a point for confusion, unless you mean to say that “by” specifically means 11.25 degrees.