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

  • n. Nautical The principal structural member of a ship, running lengthwise along the center line from bow to stern, to which the frames are attached.
  • n. Nautical A ship.
  • n. A structure, such as the breastbone of a bird, that resembles a ship's keel in function or shape.
  • n. The principal structural member of an aircraft, resembling a ship's keel in shape and function.
  • n. A pair of united petals in certain flowers, as those of the pea.
  • transitive v. Nautical To capsize or cause to capsize.
  • keel over To collapse or fall into or as if into a faint.
  • n. Nautical A freight barge, especially one for carrying coal on the Tyne River in England.
  • n. Nautical The load capacity of this barge.
  • n. A British unit of weight formerly used for coal, equal to about 21.2 long tons.
  • transitive v. Chiefly British To make cool.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. a large beam along the underside of a ship’s hull from bow to stern
  • n. sometimes, a rigid, flat piece of material anchored to the lowest part of the hull of a ship to give it greater control and stability
  • n. a type of flat-bottomed boat
  • n. something similar to chalk or crayon used to mark pavement
  • v. to collapse, to fall

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A brewer's cooling vat; a keelfat.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Fig.: The whole ship.
  • n. A barge or lighter, used on the Tyne for carrying coal from Newcastle; also, a barge load of coal, twenty-one tons, four cwt.
  • n. The two lowest petals of the corolla of a papilionaceous flower, united and inclosing the stamens and pistil; a carina. See Carina.
  • n. A projecting ridge along the middle of a flat or curved surface.
  • n. 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.
  • v. To cool; to skim or stir.
  • intransitive v. To traverse with a keel; to navigate.
  • intransitive v. To turn up the keel; to show the bottom.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • n. An early form of galley or small ship; a long boat: used with reference to Anglo-Saxon history.
  • n. 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.
  • n. In botany: A central longitudinal ridge along the back of any organ, as a leaf or glume.
  • n. 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.
  • n. Another structure of similar form, as the lower petal in Polygala. Also called carina. See cut under banner.
  • n. In zoology, a projecting ridge extending longitudinally along the middle of any surface.
  • n. A ship.
  • n. A strong, clumsy boat; a barge such as is used by the colliers at Newcastle in England.
  • n. Hence A measure of coal, 8 Newcastle chaldrons, equal to 424 hundredweight.
  • n. In brewing, a broad flat vessel used for cooling liquids; a keelfat.
  • n. Red chalk; ruddle.
  • n. A variant of kail, 1.
  • n. An obsolete or dialectal form of kill, kiln.
  • n.
  • n. In architecture, the projecting arris of an edge-molding.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. one of the main longitudinal beams (or plates) of the hull of a vessel; can extend vertically into the water to provide lateral stability
  • v. walk as if unable to control one's movements
  • n. the median ridge on the breastbone of birds that fly
  • n. a projection or ridge that suggests a keel


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

Middle English kele, from Old Norse kjölr.
Middle English kele, from Middle Dutch kiel.
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.


  • 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.

    Some Thoughts on the Threshold of the New Year

  • 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.

    Labour, Industry and the War

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

    Chapter 15

  • 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.

    Make Swimming Duck Decoys By Adding A Keel

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

    [outrigger canoe] best all round performer

  • Each ridge has a corresponding structure, called a keel, that forms on the underside of the ice.

    Sea ice

  • 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.

    CNN Transcript Jun 10, 2004

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

    Passage at Arms

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

    Passage at Arms

  • = A keel was a flat-bottomed boat, used in the northeast of England, for loading and carrying coal.

    Bussy D'Ambois and The Revenge of Bussy D'Ambois


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • Cf. ratite.

    July 9, 2015

  • 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

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

    December 12, 2006