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[huhl] /hʌl/
the hollow, lowermost portion of a ship, floating partially submerged and supporting the remainder of the ship.
  1. the boatlike fuselage of a flying boat on which the plane lands or takes off.
  2. the cigar-shaped arrangement of girders enclosing the gasbag of a rigid dirigible.
verb (used with object)
to pierce (the hull of a ship), especially below the water line.
verb (used without object)
to drift without power or sails.
hull down, (of a ship) sufficiently far away, or below the horizon, that the hull is invisible.
hull up, (of a ship) sufficiently near, or above the horizon, that the hull is visible.
Origin of hull2
1350-1400; Middle English; special use of hull1
Related forms
hull-less, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for hull down
Historical Examples
  • “On the starboard quarter, hull down, sir,” answered the look-out.

    The Coral Island R. M. Ballantyne
  • The Champion could still be seen, hull down, but the chase was lost sight of.

    The Missing Ship W. H. G. Kingston
  • Sail was then trimmed, and in less than three hours the barque was hull down, though still in pursuit of the Rose.

  • The sail was a barkantine, three points on the weather bow, hull down.

  • Some ships would be hull down and some with only the masts and smoke showing.

    New Zealanders at Gallipoli Major Fred Waite
  • If we can keep this up,” said Tom, joyfully, “she will soon be hull down.

  • We hung at last, hull down, facing the Earthward hemisphere of the Lunar disc.

    Brigands of the Moon Ray Cummings
  • The vessel is hull down, and without the glass you can't be sure what she is.

    Latitude 19 degree Mrs. Schuyler Crowninshield
  • It looked as if you'd have her hull down and out of the race, if you kept on.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter Joseph C. Lincoln
  • Some of those that started with him are hull down astarn now.

    Beyond the City Arthur Conan Doyle
British Dictionary definitions for hull down

hull down

(of a ship) having its hull concealed by the horizon
(of a tank) having only its turret visible


the main body of a vessel, tank, flying boat, etc
the shell or pod of peas or beans; the outer covering of any fruit or seed; husk
the persistent calyx at the base of a strawberry, raspberry, or similar fruit
the outer casing of a missile, rocket, etc
to remove the hulls from (fruit or seeds)
(transitive) to pierce the hull of (a vessel, tank, etc)
Derived Forms
huller, noun
hull-less, adjective
Word Origin
Old English hulu; related to Old High German helawa, Old English helan to hide


a city and port in NE England, in Kingston upon Hull unitary authority, East Riding of Yorkshire: fishing, food processing; two universities. Pop: 301 416 (2001). Official name: Kingston upon Hull
a city in SE Canada, in SW Quebec on the River Ottawa: a centre of the timber trade and associated industries. Pop: 66 246 (2001)


Cordell. 1871–1955, US statesman; secretary of state (1933–44). He helped to found the U.N.: Nobel peace prize 1945
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 hull down



"seed covering," from Old English hulu "husk, pod," from Proto-Germanic *hulus "to cover" (cf. Old High German hulla, hulsa; German Hülle, Hülse, Dutch huls). Figurative use by 1831.

"body of a ship," 1550s, perhaps from hull (n.1) on fancied resemblance of ship keels to open peapods (cf. Latin carina "keel of a ship," originally "shell of a nut;" Greek phaselus "light passenger ship, yacht," literally "bean pod;" French coque "hull of a ship; shell of a walnut or egg"). Alternative etymology is from Middle English hoole "ship's keel" (mid-15c.), from the same source as hold (n.).


"to remove the husk of," early 15c., from hull (n.1). Related: Hulled, which can mean both "having a particular kind of hull" and "stripped of the hull."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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hull down in Science
  1. The dry outer covering of a fruit, seed, or nut; a husk.

  2. The enlarged calyx of a fruit, such as a strawberry, that is usually green and easily detached.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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