American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- v. To lurch or swerve while in motion.
- v. To rush headlong or carelessly; career: "He careened through foreign territories on a desperate kind of blitz” ( Anne Tyler).
- v. Nautical To lean to one side, as a ship sailing in the wind.
- v. Nautical To turn a ship on its side for cleaning, caulking, or repairing.
- v. Nautical To cause (a ship) to lean to one side; tilt.
- v. To lean (a ship) on one side for cleaning, caulking, or repairing.
- v. To clean, caulk, or repair (a ship in this position).
- n. Nautical The act or process of careening a ship.
- n. Nautical The position of a careened ship.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Nautical, to cause (a ship) to lie over on one side for the purpose of examining, or of calking, repairing, cleansing, paying with pitch, or breaming the other side.
- To lean to one side, as a ship under a press of sail.
- n. A slanting position in which a ship is placed, that the keel may be repaired; the place where this is done.
- n. The submerged figure or body which is cut off from a floating vessel by the plane of the surface of the water; the submerged portion of a floating vessel: a figure bounded by the plane of the surface of the water and the wetted surface of a floating body.
- n. A careening or lurching motion or movement; a lurch.
- v. nautical To heave a ship down on one side so as to expose the other, in order to clean it of barnacles and weed, or to repair it below the water line.
- v. nautical To tilt on one side.
- v. To lurch or sway violently from side to side.
GNU Webster's 1913
- v. (Naut.) To cause (a vessel) to lean over so that she floats on one side, leaving the other side out of water and accessible for repairs below the water line; to case to be off the keel.
- v. To incline to one side, or lie over, as a ship when sailing on a wind; to be off the keel.
- v. move sideways or in an unsteady way
- n. pitching dangerously to one side
- v. walk as if unable to control one's movements
- Late 16th century, from French carene (keel), from Italian (Genoese) carena, from Latin carina (keel of a ship). (Wiktionary)
- From French (en) carène, (on) the keel, from Old French carene, from Old Italian carena, from Latin carīna; see kar- in Indo-European roots. (American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
“Users of this expression may be surprised to discover that the original meaning of to careen is to turn a vessel over on its side [...]”
“In American English, careen is certainly a Lost Cause, since its use in this erroneous sense is recognised in dictionaries, but for British English it may not be too late to rescue it.”
“Given that what people mean when they say careen is defined precisely by career, it seems clear when people say careen they mean career.”
“You therefore conclude that careen is not a mis-pronunciation of career.”
“The implication of rapidity that most often accompanies the use of careen as a verb of motion may have arisen naturally through the extension of the nautical sense of the verb to apply to the motion of automobiles, which generally careen, that is, lurch or tip over, only when driven at high speed.”
“If, like Helen Hawkins, you don't know the meaning of the verb 'careen', you'd be wise not to use it while insulting someone else's 'fine writing'.”
“Having dispatched “career” vs. “careen”, how about “hardy” vs. “hearty”?”
“America's Internet could careen away from the principles of freedom and openness it embodies -- and towards the likes of China's, with the government and corporations blocking Americans' access to large swaths of the web.”
“They careen through our lives knocking things over, chewing things up and creating unpleasant smells, trails of mud and a level of confusion unknown to canine-free environments.”
“In the French Concession, the city's most popular residential district, bicycles and scooters careen through the winding tree-canopied streets, holding such new buzz boites as Dr. Wine and The Apartment.”
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