2

Juggling clubs spin when sent into the air by the performer.

A dagger thrown by a pirate spins blade-over-handle as it travels through the air.

Is there a single word that describes this kind of motion?

Example:

She made an imperceptible movement. The dagger [????] through the air and fell into the water with a muffled plop.

  • 4
    I believe spin covers that sense in the context already. For example, there are no-spin or fast-spin knife throwing techniques. – ermanen Feb 20 at 0:44
6

Perhaps whirl. The Oxford Dictionary has

VERB
1 Move or cause to move rapidly round and round.

with an example

The wind grew fiercer, sending leaves and twigs whirling around in the air.

  • You could give an honorable mention to "twirl" too. – KillingTime Feb 20 at 15:08
4

The dagger [wheeled] through the air and fell into the water with a muffled plop.

The OED gives this for one of its meanings of the verb 'to wheel' :

a. intransitive. To turn or revolve about an axis or centre, like a wheel on its axle; to rotate; to whirl. and it gives as one of the examples :

1796 H. Hunter tr. J.-H. B. de Saint-Pierre Stud. Nature (1799) I. 426 If the Earth wheels around it's axis.

If something is in general motion, and if it also is turning on its own axis, then it is behaving as a wheel behaves in that the wheel is turning on the axle but the wheel is also proceeding in a forward (or backward) direction.

It was as if Rostov had flown into a wall. The tail of the huge airplane whipped into the air and there was a burst of blinding flame when it hit the trees and he saw dark bits wheeling through the air.

The Romanov Succession - Brain Garfield

0

It sounds like a form of "precession" or "precessing" - the term used in physics - involving simultaneous secondary motion of a spinning body (object). Your examples would appear to be special cases of it. Please see the links.

https://www.thefreedictionary.com/precess

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precession

  • 1
    It is a secondary circular motion initiated through the application of torque into the motion system as I understand it. It is a specialized word, and probably better for specialized usage, but I believe it is a correct suggestion. – user22542 Feb 20 at 13:40
  • I'm filing this away mentally so I can wield it when needed. :) – Lambie Feb 20 at 17:24

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