Definition of keelhaul in English:



[with object]historical
  • 1Punish (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.’
    • ‘The head and body of the keelhauled will constantly smash against the keel.’
    • ‘Flogging, branding, keelhauling, locking sailors in chains, walking the plank, and hanging were used in this era.’
    • ‘He might surface, gasp for air and taunting by his pirate comrades and then be keelhauled back underwater.’
    • ‘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!!’’
    1. 1.1humorous Punish or reprimand severely.
      ‘anyone who laid a finger on her would be keelhauled’
      • ‘Just remember that if your only fund is an index fund, a bear market will keelhaul your savings.’
      • ‘The writers and the director deserve to keelhauled because of how they deal with villains.’
      • ‘Anderson dragged her into his office for a keelhauling and everyone went back to regular blowing.’
      • ‘Writers who send in poor photographs are keelhauled.’
      • ‘Coleridge's text may have been keelhauled, but the show still charts a course through it.’
      • ‘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.’
      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.