Word Origin & History
O.E. hela, from P.Gmc. *khangkh- (cf. O.N. hæll, O.Fris. hel, Du. hiel), related to O.E. hoh "hock." Heeled "provided with money" is 1880 in Amer.Eng., from earlier sense "furnished with a gun, armed" (1866), from still earlier sense "furnish (a gamecock) with a heel-like spur" (1562). To heel
(of a dog) is from 1810. Heeler "unscrupulous political lackey" is U.S. slang, 1877, from the notion of one who follows at the heels of a political boss, no doubt coined with the image of a dog in mind. Achilles' heel "only vulnerable spot" is from 1810. Heel-tap was originally (1688) one of the bits of leather that are stacked up to make a shoe heel; meaning "bit of liquor left in a glass or bottle" first recorded 1688; the exact connection is uncertain. Down at heels (1732) refers to heels of boots or shoes worn down and the owner too poor to replace them.
of a ship, O.E. hyldan "incline," from P.Gmc. *khelthijanan (cf. M.Du. helden "to lean," O.N. hallr "inclined," Ger. halde "slope, declivity"). Re-spelled 16c. from M.E. hield, probably by misinterpretation of -d as a pt. suffix.
"contemptible person," 1914 in U.S. underworld slang, originally "incompetent or worthless criminal," probably from a sense of "person in the lowest position."