Navigation is used more for sea travel, especially since that's where the word originally came from. I'm wondering if there's an equivalent word that's used more for overland travel. As in,

The scout was skilled at [word].

  • 6
    As far as I know "navigate" can be used just fine when referring to overland travel. The same goes with air travel. Although specific air navigator crew members aren't really used anymore because of GPS and computers, most people involved in flying a plane are generally involved in some type of navigation. Back in the days when people used paper maps a driver might tell their passenger to navigate for them, tell the driver where to go. – Zebrafish Nov 7 '18 at 0:56
  • 4
    orienteering, but first used in 1948. – Phil Sweet Nov 7 '18 at 0:59
  • 1
    @Zebrafish Depends what kind of scout and when. I was Boy Scout camp instructor and taught orienteering in the sense of basic land navigation skills. – Phil Sweet Nov 7 '18 at 1:53
  • 2
    My question is would one use 'orienteering' while driving a car or other vehicle, or even using a bus or rail system? – Trevor Christopher Butcher Nov 7 '18 at 7:13
  • 1
    @TrevorChristopherButcher - Nope, you wouldn't. You'd use "navigate". – AndyT Nov 7 '18 at 11:31

"Orienteering" in its original sense can be used this way: "finding one's way in an unknown terrain with the aid of a map".

That said, this usage does seem to be limited to travel by foot, and not to land travel in general.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    You beat me by 7 seconds! – Phil Sweet Nov 7 '18 at 1:00
  • Your first and second link both are articles about the sport of orienteering. Your third link provides what seems to be Norwegian, Swedish and Danish translations in English. – Zebrafish Nov 7 '18 at 1:45
  • @Zebrafish The information at the second and third links indicates that prior to becoming a competitive sport, it was used by the military in the more general sense of "finding one's way on land with a compass and map". – Mark Beadles Nov 7 '18 at 12:35
  • 1
    @AndyT That's a very good point, which I concede. – Mark Beadles Nov 7 '18 at 12:36

Wayfinding is a more general term used to describe finding your way from place to place (on either land or sea), using a combination of maps, signage, landmarks and other information (GPS, dead reckoning etc):

Wayfinding encompasses all of the ways in which people (and animals) orient themselves in physical space and navigate from place to place.

| improve this answer | |

I'd call it... navigation. From the Collins dictionary definition of navigate:

  1. (intransitive) (of a passenger in a motor vehicle) to give directions to the driver; point out the route

Don't forget that most car drivers in an unknown area will find their way with a satnav, which is short for "satellite navigation".

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.