\ ˈkēl How to pronounce keel (audio) \
keeled; keeling; keels

Definition of keel

 (Entry 1 of 5)

intransitive verb

1 : to fall in or as if in a faint usually used with overkeeled over from exhaustion
2 of a boat or ship : to heel or lean precariously

Definition of keel (Entry 2 of 5)

1a : the chief structural member of a boat or ship that extends longitudinally along the center of its bottom and that often projects from the bottom also : this projection
b : ship
2 : a projection suggesting the keel of a boat or ship: such as
a : an anatomical process forming a ridge (as on the sternum of a bird) : carina sense 1
b botany : the lower part of a papilionaceous flower (as of a pea or bean plant) that consists of two fused petals, lies between the wings (see wing sense 2e(2)), and encloses the pistil and stamens The keel, the lowest petal of the pea-like flower, is short and rounded.— Sylvan T. Runkel and Dean M. Roose

Definition of keel (Entry 3 of 5)

: a flat-bottomed barge used especially on the Tyne to carry coal
keeled; keeling; keels

Definition of keel (Entry 4 of 5)

chiefly dialectal

Definition of keel (Entry 5 of 5)

chiefly dialectal

Other Words from keel

Noun (1)

keeled \ ˈkēld How to pronounce keeled (audio) \ adjective
keelless \ ˈkēl-​ləs How to pronounce keelless (audio) \ adjective

First Known Use of keel

Verb (1)

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Noun (1)

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun (2)

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Verb (2)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (3)

15th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for keel

Noun (1) and Verb (1)

Middle English kele, from Old Norse kjǫlr; akin to Old English ceole throat, beak of a ship — more at glutton

Noun (2)

Middle English kele, from Middle Dutch kiel; akin to Old English cēol ship

Verb (2)

Middle English kelen, from Old English cēlan, from cōl cool

Noun (3)

Middle English (Scots) keyle

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Time Traveler for keel

Time Traveler

The first known use of keel was before the 12th century

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Statistics for keel

Last Updated

27 Apr 2020

Cite this Entry

“Keel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/keel. Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for keel


\ ˈkēl How to pronounce keel (audio) \

Kids Definition of keel

: a long heavy piece of wood or metal that runs along and usually sticks out from the center of the bottom of a ship


\ ˈkēl How to pronounce keel (audio) \

Medical Definition of keel

: acute septicemic salmonellosis or paratyphoid of ducklings marked by sudden collapse and death of apparently healthy birds

called also keel disease

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More from Merriam-Webster on keel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for keel

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with keel

Spanish Central: Translation of keel

Nglish: Translation of keel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of keel for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about keel

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