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

  • intransitive & transitive verb To tilt or cause to tilt to one side.
  • noun A tilt, as of a boat, to one side.
  • noun The rounded posterior portion of the human foot under and behind the ankle.
  • noun The corresponding part of the hind foot of other vertebrates.
  • noun A similar anatomical part, such as the fleshy rounded base of the human palm or the hind toe of a bird.
  • noun The part, as of a sock, shoe, or stocking, that covers the heel.
  • noun The built-up portion of a shoe or boot, supporting the heel.
  • noun One of the crusty ends of a loaf of bread.
  • noun The lower or rearward part, as.
  • noun The part of the head of a golf club where it joins the shaft.
  • noun The end of a violin bow where the handle is located.
  • noun The lower end of a mast.
  • noun The after end of a ship's keel.
  • noun Botany The basal end of a plant cutting or tuber used in propagation.
  • noun Oppression; tyranny.
  • noun Informal A dishonorable or unscrupulous person.
  • intransitive verb To furnish with a heel or heels.
  • intransitive verb To repair or replace the heels, as for shoes.
  • intransitive verb Slang To furnish, especially with money.
  • intransitive verb To arm (a gamecock) with gaffs.
  • intransitive verb To press or strike with the heel.
  • intransitive verb To follow at one's heels.
  • idiom (down at the heel/heels) With the heel worn down. Used of shoes.
  • idiom (down at the heel/heels) Shabby or poor in appearance.
  • idiom (lay by the heels) To put in fetters or shackles; imprison.
  • idiom (on/upon) Directly behind.
  • idiom (on/upon) Immediately following.
  • idiom (heel/heels) Having holes in one's socks or shoes.
  • idiom (heel/heels) Rundown; shabby; seedy.
  • idiom (take to (one's) heels) To run away; flee.
  • idiom (to heel) Close behind.
  • idiom (to heel) Under discipline or control.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The act of inclining or canting from a vertical position; a cant: as, the ship gave a heel to port. Also heeling.
  • noun An obsolete spelling of heal.
  • To tilt, incline, or cant over from a vertical position, as a ship.
  • To pour out.
  • To turn partly over; come to a tilted position; cant: as, the ship heeled over.
  • Same as heal, 3.
  • In golf, to strike (a ball) on the heel of the club.
  • To perform by the use of the heels or feet, as a dance.
  • To furnish with a heel or heel-piece, as any foot-covering; put a heel to, as a shoe or stocking.
  • To catch by the heels.
  • To arm with a gaff or spur, as a cock.
  • To equip or arm. See heeled, 2.
  • In sporting, to come or walk behind one's heels: used of a dog, and chiefly in command.


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

[Alteration of Middle English helden, from Old English hieldan.]

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

[Middle English, from Old English hēla.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Alteration of earlier heeld, from Middle English heelden, from Old English hyldan, hieldan ("to incline"), cognate with Old Norse hella ("to pour out") ( > Danish hælde ("lean, pour")). More at hield.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Middle English hele, heel, from Old English hēla, from Proto-Germanic *hanhilaz (cf. Dutch hiel, Swedish häl), diminutive of Proto-Germanic *hanhaz (“hock”). More at hock.


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  • In professional wrestling, a heel is a wrestler who is villainous or a "bad guy", who is booked (scripted) by the promotion to be in the position of being an antagonist. They are typically opposed by their polar opposites called faces (the heroic protagonist or "good guy" characters). In American wrestling, it was common for the faces to be American and the heels to be portrayed as foreign.

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