Cardinal & Intermediate Directions: Definition & Meaning

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  • 0:02 Cardinal &…
  • 0:26 Abbreviations & Meaning
  • 2:15 Importance of…
  • 3:03 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

This lesson defines cardinal and intermediate directions, explains their meaning, and then goes over the importance these directions have with respect to navigation.

Cardinal & Intermediate Directions

Here, have a rose. No, not the flower! The compass rose! It's made up of cardinal and intermediate directions. Cardinal directions are the main directions of the compass, while the intermediate directions, or ordinal directions, are the four points in between the cardinal directions.

Let's go over their abbreviations and meanings, then we will explore their importance.

Abbreviations & Meaning

The Compass Rose
Compass rose

Take a close look at the compass rose. All the way at the top, at the 12:00 position, you'll see an N. The N stands for north, one of the four cardinal directions. Moving clockwise, at the 3:00 position, you'll see an E. The E stands for east. Further clockwise, at 6:00, is the letter S. S stands for south. Finally, at the 9:00 position you will see the letter W, which stands for west. These are the four cardinal directions, N for north, E for east, S for south, and W for west. They're always read in the clockwise direction. To help you remember their order in the clockwise fashion, remember this piece of very important mnemonic device: Never Eat Soggy Waffles! Or, perhaps, you prefer Never Eat Slimy Worms. It doesn't matter, so long as you remember them in order.

Now, let's go over the intermediate directions. Again, let's start at 12:00 and move clockwise. Right in between north and east you'll see the abbreviation NE. This stands for northeast. In the middle of east and south lies SE. SE represents southeast. Further clockwise you'll spot SW in between south and west. SW denotes southwest. Finally, the last of our intermediate directions is NW, located halfway between west and north. NW symbolizes northwest. Those are our four intermediate, or ordinal, directions: NE for northeast, SE for southeast, SW for southwest, and NW for northwest.

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