from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A freight barge, especially one for carrying coal on the Tyne River in England.
  • noun The load capacity of this barge.
  • noun A British unit of weight formerly used for coal, equal to about 21.2 long tons.
  • noun The principal structural member of a boat or ship, running along the center of the hull from bow to stern, to which the ribs are attached.
  • noun A projecting ridge or fin on the bottom of the hull of a boat or ship that improves directional control and is often weighted for added stability.
  • noun The principal structural member of an aircraft, resembling a ship's keel in shape and function.
  • noun A structure, such as the breastbone of a bird, that resembles a ship's keel in function or shape.
  • noun A pair of united petals in certain flowers, as those of many members of the pea family.
  • intransitive & transitive verb To capsize or cause to capsize.
  • transitive verb To make cool.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun An early form of galley or small ship; a long boat: used with reference to Anglo-Saxon history.
  • noun The principal timber in a ship or boat, extending from stem to stern at the bottom, supporting the whole frame, and consisting of a number of pieces scarfed and bolted together; in iron vessels, the combination of plates corresponding to the keel of a wooden vessel.
  • noun In botany: A central longitudinal ridge along the back of any organ, as a leaf or glume.
  • noun In a papilionaceous corolla, the lower pair of petals, which are more or less united into a prow-shaped body, usually inclosing the stamens and pistil.
  • noun Another structure of similar form, as the lower petal in Polygala. Also called carina. See cut under banner.
  • noun In zoology, a projecting ridge extending longitudinally along the middle of any surface.
  • noun A ship.
  • noun A strong, clumsy boat; a barge such as is used by the colliers at Newcastle in England.
  • noun Hence A measure of coal, 8 Newcastle chaldrons, equal to 424 hundredweight.
  • noun Red chalk; ruddle.
  • To make cool; cool; moderate the heat of, as that of the contents of a pot boiling violently by gently stirring them.
  • To moderate the ardor or intensity of; assuage; appease; pacify; diminish.
  • To become cool; cool down.
  • To mark, as a sheep, with ruddle.
  • To plow with a keel, as the sea; navigate.
  • To furnish with a keel.
  • To turn up the keel; show the bottom.
  • To give over; cease.
  • To fall suddenly; tumble down or over, as from fright or a blow, or in a swoon.
  • noun A variant of kail, 1.
  • noun An obsolete or dialectal form of kill, kiln.
  • noun In brewing, a broad flat vessel used for cooling liquids; a keelfat.
  • noun In architecture, the projecting arris of an edge-molding.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Shipbuilding) A longitudinal timber, or series of timbers scarfed together, extending from stem to stern along the bottom of a vessel. It is the principal timber of the vessel, and, by means of the ribs attached on each side, supports the vessel's frame. In an iron vessel, a combination of plates supplies the place of the keel of a wooden ship. See Illust. of keelson.
  • noun Fig.: The whole ship.
  • noun engraving A barge or lighter, used on the Tyne for carrying coal from Newcastle; also, a barge load of coal, twenty-one tons, four cwt.
  • noun (Bot.) The two lowest petals of the corolla of a papilionaceous flower, united and inclosing the stamens and pistil; a carina. See Carina.
  • noun (Nat. Hist.) A projecting ridge along the middle of a flat or curved surface.
  • noun (Aeronautics) In a dirigible, a construction similar in form and use to a ship's keel; in an aëroplane, a fin or fixed surface employed to increase stability and to hold the machine to its course.
  • noun (Naut.) a keel peculiar to ironclad vessels, extending only a portion of the length of the vessel under the bilges.
  • noun See under False.
  • noun [U. S.] A low, flat-bottomed freight boat. See Keel, n., 3.
  • noun one of the timbers or sections of which a keel is composed.
  • noun in a level or horizontal position, so that the draught of water at the stern and the bow is the same.
  • noun steady; balanced; steadily.
  • noun A brewer's cooling vat; a keelfat.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English kele, from Middle Dutch kiel.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English kele, from Old Norse kjölr.]

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English kelen, from Old English cēlan, to cool; see gel- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English kele, from Old Norse kjǫlr.


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  • But the responsibility of keeping the Canadian economy on an even keel is not one that should be left primarily or even mainly to the financial system.

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  • Now, in some of our shipyards these vessels are being launched only ten days after the keel is laid and they are fully ready to load cargo and sail to the aid of our fighting forces only fourteen days after they are launched.

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  • Her fin keel struck bottom, and her main topmast lurched and shivered as if about to come down upon our heads.

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  • Her fin keel struck bottom, and her main topmast lurched and shivered as if about to come down upon our heads.

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  • You have two options: a water keel, which features a hollow keel designed to fill with water to add stability; or a weighted keel, which is usually filled with sand to make the decoy stable as well as self-righting.

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  • The heavy hull gives a fair bit of stability itself and the keel is a shoal, keeping the boat on track.

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  • He tended always to be on an even keel, which is what made it easy to work around him, to give him bad news, or to tell him good news.

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  • The keel is a single piece of steel running the height of the Can.

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  • A central structural member, called the keel, runs the length of the cylinder.

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  • just noticed it's "leek" in reverse...neat!

    December 12, 2006

  • A traditional British unit of weight for coal. The unit was standardized in 1695 as 21.2 long tons, or 47 488 pounds (21.5402 metric tons).

    November 6, 2007

  • Cf. ratite.

    July 9, 2015