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From off + keel.

Prepositional phraseEdit

off keel

  1. (of a watercraft, etc.) Out of balance, tilting to one side.
    • 1896, William Sharp, Boston: Lamson, Wolffe & Col, Chapter 4, p. 78,[1]
      The tide was full and the dingey was off keel. The punt nosed the pebbly slope like a terrier, but her stern swung clear.
    • 1906, Arthur Wesselhoeft Stevens, Practical Rowing with Scull and Sweep, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., Chapter 1, p. 10,[2]
      [] at the finish the boat is moving faster, and the blade must be taken out more sharply if it is to avoid pulling the boat off keel.
    • 1946, Ross Rocklynne, “The Bottled Men” in Astounding Science-Fiction, Volume 37, Number 4, June 1946, p. 89,[3]
      At any rate, Gull had done a hurried repair job on the ship, for it was traveling with the labored toil of an old man walking uphill. It was off-keel. The body of the ship leaned at an angle to the line of flight.
  2. (figuratively) Out of control, not proceeding or running smoothly.
    • 1960, Brian Moore, The Luck of Ginger Coffey, Boston: Little, Brown & Co., Chapter One, p. 4,[4]
      The lower half of a duplex apartment on a shabby Montreal street, dark as limbo, jerry-built fifty years ago and going off keel ever since.
    • 1998, Linda Greenhouse, “Horse Sense,” The New York Times Magazine, 8 November, 1998,[5]
      I’ve learned the lesson that the worst thing that can happen to a gambler is to let his recent losses or wins knock him off keel emotionally.
    • 2002, Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, “At Camp David, Advise and Dissent,” The Washington Post, 31 January, 2002,[6]
      Attorney General John D. Ashcroft provided an update to the group on his efforts to develop a legislative package to expand the powers of law enforcement to fight terrorism. He outlined a two-phase strategy, aimed first at “immediate disruption and prevention of terrorism” and followed by longer-term efforts to put terrorists “off keel.”