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heel 1 (hēl)
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n.
1.
a. The rounded posterior portion of the human foot under and behind the ankle.
b. The corresponding part of the hind foot of other vertebrates.
c. A similar anatomical part, such as the fleshy rounded base of the human palm or the hind toe of a bird.
2.
a. The part, as of a sock, shoe, or stocking, that covers the heel.
b. The built-up portion of a shoe or boot, supporting the heel.
3. One of the crusty ends of a loaf of bread.
4. The lower or rearward part, as:
a. The part of the head of a golf club where it joins the shaft.
b. The end of a violin bow where the handle is located.
5. Nautical
a. The lower end of a mast.
b. The after end of a ship's keel.
6. Botany The basal end of a plant cutting or tuber used in propagation.
7. Oppression; tyranny: under the heel of Stalinism; the heel of an autocrat.
8. Informal A dishonorable or unscrupulous person.
v. heeled, heel·ing, heels
v.tr.
1.
a. To furnish with a heel or heels.
b. To repair or replace the heels, as for shoes.
2. Slang To furnish, especially with money.
3. To arm (a gamecock) with gaffs.
4. To press or strike with the heel: heel a horse.
v.intr.
To follow at one's heels: The dog won't heel.
Idioms:
down at the heel/heels
1. With the heel worn down. Used of shoes.
2. Shabby or poor in appearance.
lay by the heels
To put in fetters or shackles; imprison.
on/upon the heels of
1. Directly behind.
2. Immediately following.
out at the heel/heels
1. Having holes in one's socks or shoes.
2. Rundown; shabby; seedy.
take to (one's) heels
To run away; flee.
to heel
1. Close behind: The hound followed his master to heel.
2. Under discipline or control: The army swiftly brought the rebels to heel.

[Middle English, from Old English hēla.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
heel 2 (hēl)
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intr. & tr.v. heeled, heel·ing, heels
To tilt or cause to tilt to one side.
n.
A tilt, as of a boat, to one side.

[Alteration of Middle English helden, from Old English hieldan.]
(click for a larger image)
heel2

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 
heel 3 (hēl)
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tr.v. heeled, heel·ing, heels
To cover the roots of (a plant) with soil temporarily, as while preparing for a more permanent planting. Often with in: heeled in the apple saplings until the orchard had been laid out.

[Middle English helen, partly from Old English helian, to cover, heel in, and partly from Old English helan, to hide, conceal; see kel-1 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
 

Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices

    Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:

    Indo-European Roots

    Semitic Roots

    The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.

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