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I'm looking for a word that describes a generic change in altitude, something that could refer to both ascent or descent.

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    "altitude change" – Oldcat Apr 30 '14 at 17:45
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    Can you provide more context? An example sentence? – James Kingsbery Apr 30 '14 at 17:54
  • How about "ambiscent"? – Sven Yargs Apr 30 '14 at 18:39
  • Context would help, but "yaw" can be a verb as well as a noun, and could fit. If you're not sure your audience will understand "yaw," you could try "vertical movement/motion". (Yaw refers to movement outside the primary axis of movement, so means vertical movement for an airplane, but not for everything.) – frances Apr 30 '14 at 18:53
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    @frances My dictionary says that "yaw" is "twist or oscillate about a vertical axis". Pilots use it when they're turning, not changing altitude. Changing the horizontal angle is "pitch". – Barmar May 1 '14 at 16:08
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If you really need a single, attested word, maybe consider climbing ?

Though unadorned climbing is usually an ascent, mountaineers climb up and climb down mountains.

Advantages: short, natural, well-attested, easily-understood word. Useful in non-technical contexts, particularly if room for elaboration or qualification is available.

Disadvantages: implicit bias to ascent without qualification: a weakness in a technical context. Would be misunderstood in aeronautics.

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