Quandaries and Queries


Student secondary

I was asked this in maths but I am not sure if it is geography. Name all the compass points? We have been given 8 but he told us there is more and we have to name them.



Hi Mhairi,

Compasses have 32 directional lines marked on them called the "points of the compass." The 4 largest points from North toward the east are (in order) N, NNE, NE ENE.

This is what the OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY informs us (under the preposition and adverb "by" definition 9b) about the remaining 16 points (of which 4 are in the first quadrant).

"by" is used in the names of the sixteen smallest points of the compass (four per quadrant), namely, North by East, North-east by North, North-east by East, East by North, etc., indicating one point towards the east, west, north, or south of N., NE., E., SE., S. SW., W., NW. respectively.

Here's how it goes:

The point midway between N. and E. is NE.; that midway between N. and NE. is NNE.: the intermediate point between N. and NNE. is N. by E., that between NE. and NNE. is NE. by N.


Go to Math Central