Definition of keelhaul
1 : to haul under the keel of a ship as punishment or torture
2 : to rebuke severely
keelhaul was our Word of the Day on 02/26/2016. Hear the podcast!
Examples of keelhaul in a sentence
there's no need to keelhaul him—it was an honest mistake, and a small one at that
Did You Know?
In the mid-1600s, British monarchs were intent on using their powerful navy to expand their empire. Insubordination was not tolerated, and mutinous sailors were disciplined severely to discourage others from similar rebellion. Keelhauling was one of the worst penalties that could befall a renegade mariner. Although they definitely practiced the gruesome punishment, the British did not invent it—the Dutch did. Keelhaul is a translation of the Dutch word kielhalen, which means "to haul under the keel of a ship." Even after the practice was banned on European naval vessels in the mid-1800s, the word keelhaul remained in English as a term for a severe scolding.
Origin and Etymology of keelhaul
Dutch kielhalen, from kiel keel + halen to haul
First Known Use: 1666
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