• synonyms


[kel-suh n, keel-]
noun Nautical.
  1. any of various fore-and-aft structural members lying above or parallel to the keel in the bottom of a hull.
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Also kelson.

Origin of keelson

1605–15; < Low German kielswin literally, keel swine (sense relation obscure) < Scandinavian; compare Dutch kolsvijn, Danish kølsvin, Swedish kölsvin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for keelson

Historical Examples

  • A sudden shift of the rudder shook the Vulcan from peak to keelson.

    The Cruise of the Dry Dock

    T. S. Stribling

  • I was driving bolts in the hold, through the keelson, with Hays.

    My Bondage and My Freedom

    Frederick Douglass

  • The keelson was an old invention and shelf-pieces and waterways were soon in vogue.

    All Afloat

    William Wood

  • The principal keel, as distinguished from the false-keel and the keelson.

    The Sailor's Word-Book

    William Henry Smyth

  • From truck to keelson there was no part of her imperfect; from stem to stern.

    The Wind Bloweth

    Brian Oswald Donn-Byrne

British Dictionary definitions for keelson



  1. a longitudinal beam fastened to the keel of a vessel for strength and stiffness
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Word Origin

C17: probably from Low German kielswin, keel swine, ultimately of Scandinavian origin
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 keelson


also kelson, 1620s, altered (by influence of keel (n.)) from Middle English kelsyng (late 13c.), which probably is of Scandinavian origin (cf. Swedish kölsvin, Danish and Norwegian kjølsvin, from root of Old Norse kjölr (see keel (n.)) + swin "swine," used of timber (see swine). Or else from a similar Low German source.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper