Definition of keelhaul in English:



[WITH OBJECT]historical
  • 1 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’
    • ‘Once they were out at sea, Grapple was keelhauled every night for a fortnight.’
    • ‘Flogging, branding, keelhauling, locking sailors in chains, walking the plank, and hanging were used in this era.’
    • ‘The head and body of the keelhauled will constantly smash against the keel.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 1.1humorous Punish or reprimand severely.
      ‘anyone who laid a finger on her would be keelhauled’
      • ‘Anderson dragged her into his office for a keelhauling and everyone went back to regular blowing.’
      • ‘But a forward-looking, problem-solving investigation needs to foster a climate in which officials can be self-critical without undue fear of being prosecuted or keelhauled.’
      • ‘The writers and the director deserve to keelhauled because of how they deal with villains.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Coleridge's text may have been keelhauled, but the show still charts a course through it.’
      reprimand, rebuke, admonish, chastise, chide, upbraid, reprove, reproach, scold, remonstrate with, berate, take to task, pull up, castigate, lambaste, read someone the riot act, give someone a piece of one's mind, haul over the coals, lecture, criticize, censure
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Mid 17th century: from Dutch kielhalen.