Share this entry
keelhaul Line breaks: keel|haul
Pronunciation: /ˈkiːlhɔːl/

Definition of keelhaul in English:


[with object]
1 historical Punish (someone) by dragging them through the water under the keel of a ship, either across the width or from bow to stern: if I catch any more on board I’ll keelhaul them
More example sentences
  • Then, his blue eyes narrowed a bit, ‘And if I hear any rumors to the contrary, I'll keelhaul you and anyone else that has any part of it!!’
  • He might surface, gasp for air and taunting by his pirate comrades and then be keelhauled back underwater.
  • Flogging, branding, keelhauling, locking sailors in chains, walking the plank, and hanging were used in this era.
1.1 humorous Punish or reprimand severely: anyone who laid a finger on her would be keelhauled
More example sentences
  • Coleridge's text may have been keelhauled, but the show still charts a course through it.
  • Writers who send in poor photographs are keelhauled.
  • Just remember that if your only fund is an index fund, a bear market will keelhaul your savings.


Mid 17th century: from Dutch kielhalen.

Definition of keelhaul in:
Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.

Subscribe to remove ads and access premium resources