• synonyms


verb (used with object)
  1. Nautical. to haul (an offender) under the bottom of a ship and up on the other side as a punishment.
  2. to rebuke severely.
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Also keel·hale [keel-heyl] /ˈkil heɪl/.

Origin of keelhaul

From the Dutch word kielhalen, dating back to 1660–70. See keel1, haul
Also called keel·drag [keel-drag] /ˈkilˌdræg/, keel·rake [keel-reyk] /ˈkilˌreɪk/.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for keelhaul

Historical Examples of keelhaul

  • "Keelhaul me if I cut adrift at this stage of the game," answered Ferral.

    Motor Matt's Hard Luck

    Stanley R. Matthews

  • He had sneaked in without Aunt's knowing it, and on reaching home was heard to express a strong desire to 'keelhaul them doctors.'

    The North Pacific

    Willis Boyd Allen

  • While he was considering the matter, Mr. Lowington went on deck, and investigated the plot to keelhaul the professor.

    Dikes and Ditches

    Oliver Optic

  • "Yes, you may go; but I'll keelhaul every man who's not off to his work by daylight—recollect that," replied Vanderdecken.

British Dictionary definitions for keelhaul


verb (tr)
  1. to drag (a person) by a rope from one side of a vessel to the other through the water under the keel
  2. to rebuke harshly
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Word Origin for keelhaul

C17: from Dutch kielhalen; see keel 1, haul
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for keelhaul


1660s (the experience itself is described from 1620s), from Dutch kielhalen, literally "to haul under the keel," an old punishment. See keel (n.) + haul (v.). Related: Keelhauled. German kielholen, Danish kjølhale, Swedish kölhala also are from Dutch.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper