One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1Nautical. Relating to or designating a navigational course in which a ship follows a rhumb line, i.e., a course which cuts meridians at a constant angle (other than a right angle). Chiefly in "paradoxal compass"noun a projection on which such a course could be plotted, and on which it would appear as part of a spiral curve. Now historical.
Mid 16th century; earliest use found in John Dee (1527–1609), mathematician, astrologer, and antiquary. From paradox or its etymon classical Latin paradoxum + -al.
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