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[kuh-reen] /kəˈrin/
verb (used without object)
(of a vehicle) to lean, sway, or tip to one side while in motion:
The car careened around the corner.
(of a ship) to heel over or list.
career (def 7).
South Midland U.S. to lean or bend away from the vertical position:
The barn was careening a little.
verb (used with object), Nautical
to cause (a ship) to lie over on a side, as for repairs or cleaning; heave down.
to clean or repair (a ship lying on its side for the purpose).
to cause (a ship) to heel over or list, as by the force of a beam wind.
a careening.
Nautical. the position of a careened ship.
Origin of careen
1585-95 for def 9; < Middle French carine < Latin carīna keel, nutshell; akin to Greek káryon nut
Related forms
careener, noun
Can be confused
careen, career. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for careen
  • But absent our leadership, it will continue to careen down the path we're going now.
  • Their moods often careen wildly from normal to sad or hostile at the slightest provocation.
  • The deluxe drawing rooms are not completely out, but now children on skateboards careen over their polished floors.
  • Now pharmaceutical firms are beginning to careen off the patent cliff.
  • Inside, floors slope, and walls careen at dizzying angles to evoke a world gone psychotic.
  • The sled shudders as the dogs careen toward it onto land.
  • Play a tornado and careen through the world, hovering up everything in your bath.
  • Then again, maybe not: the finale was all the more exciting for threatening to careen out of control at one point.
  • Birds careen south in waves called flights, following the first frosts.
  • Vessels careen up and down walls of water sometimes three or four time their own size.
British Dictionary definitions for careen


to sway or cause to sway dangerously over to one side
(transitive) (nautical) to cause (a vessel) to keel over to one side, esp in order to clean or repair its bottom
(intransitive) (nautical) (of a vessel) to keel over to one side
Derived Forms
careenage, noun
careener, noun
Word Origin
C17: from French carène keel, from Italian carena, from Latin carīna keel
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for careen

1590s, "to turn a ship on its side" (with the keel exposed), from French cariner, literally "to expose a ship's keel," from Middle French carene "keel" (16c.), from Italian (Genoese dialect) carena, from Latin carina "keel of a ship," originally "nutshell," possibly from PIE root *kar- "hard" (see hard (adj.)).

Intransitive sense of "to lean, to tilt" is from 1763, specifically of ships; in general use by 1883. In sense "to rush headlong," confused with career (v.) since at least 1923. [To career is to move rapidly; to careen is to lurch from side to side (often while moving rapidly).] Earlier figurative uses of careen were "to be laid up; to rest." Related: Careened; careening.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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