at heel


1 [heel]
the back part of the human foot, below and behind the ankle.
an analogous part in other vertebrates.
either hind foot or hoof of some animals, as the horse.
the foot as a whole: He was hung by the heels.
the part of a stocking, shoe, or the like covering the back part of the wearer's foot.
a solid, raised base or support of leather, wood, rubber, etc., attached to the sole of a shoe or boot under the back part of the foot.
heels, high-heeled shoes.
something resembling the back part of the human foot in position, shape, etc.: a heel of bread.
the rear of the palm, adjacent to the wrist.
the latter or concluding part of anything: the heel of a session.
the lower end of any of various more or less vertical objects, as rafters, spars, or the sternposts of vessels.
the after end of a keel.
the inner end of a bowsprit or jib boom.
the crook in the head of a golf club.
Building Trades. the exterior angle of an angle iron.
Railroads. the end of a frog farthest from a switch.
Horticulture. the base of any part, as of a cutting or tuber, that is removed from a plant for use in the propagation of that plant.
verb (used with object)
to follow at the heels of; chase closely.
to furnish with heels, as shoes.
to perform (a dance) with the heels.
Golf. to strike (the ball) with the heel of the club.
to arm (a gamecock) with spurs.
verb (used without object)
(of a dog) to follow at one's heels on command.
to use the heels, as in dancing.
Verb phrases
heel in, to cover temporarily (the roots and most of the stem of a plant) with soil prior to permanent planting.
at one's heels, close behind one: The police are at his heels. Also, at heel.
cool one's heels, to be kept waiting, especially because of deliberate discourtesy: The producer let the actors who were waiting to be auditioned cool their heels in the outer office.
down at the heels, having a shabby, slipshod, or slovenly appearance. Also, down at heel, down at the heel, out at heels, out at the heels.
his heels, Cribbage. a jack turned up as a starter, counting two points for the dealer.
kick up one's heels, to have a vigorously entertaining time; frolic: Grandfather could still kick up his heels now and then.
lay by the heels,
to arrest and imprison.
to prevail over; render ineffectual: Superior forces laid the invaders by the heels.
on / upon the heels of, closely following; in quick succession of: On the heels of the hurricane came an outbreak of looting.
show a clean pair of heels, to leave one's pursuers or competitors behind; outrun: The thief showed his victim a clean pair of heels. Also, show one's heels to.
take to one's heels, to run away; take flight: The thief took to his heels as soon as he saw the police.
to heel,
close behind: The dog followed the hunter to heel.
under control or subjugation: The attackers were brought swiftly to heel.

before 850; Middle English; Old English hēl(a); cognate with Dutch hiel, Old Norse hǣll. See hock1

heelless, adjective

heal, heel, he'll. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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World English Dictionary
heel1 (hiːl)
1.  Compare calcaneus the back part of the human foot from the instep to the lower part of the ankle
2.  the corresponding part in other vertebrates
3.  the part of a shoe, stocking, etc, designed to fit the heel
4.  the outer part of a shoe underneath the heel
5.  the part of the palm of a glove nearest the wrist
6.  the lower, end, or back section of something: the heel of a loaf
7.  horticulture the small part of the parent plant that remains attached to a young shoot cut for propagation and that ensures more successful rooting
8.  nautical
 a.  the bottom of a mast
 b.  the after end of a ship's keel
9.  the back part of a golf club head where it bends to join the shaft
10.  rugby possession of the ball as obtained from a scrum (esp in the phrase get the heel)
11.  slang a contemptible person
12.  at one's heels, on one's heels just behind or following closely
13.  dig one's heels in See dig in
14.  down at heel
 a.  shabby or worn
 b.  slovenly or careless
15.  kick one's heels, cool one's heels to wait or be kept waiting
16.  rock back on one's heels to astonish or be astonished
17.  show a clean pair of heels to run off
18.  take to one's heels to run off
19.  to heel disciplined or under control, as a dog walking by a person's heel
20.  (tr) to repair or replace the heel of (shoes, boots, etc)
21.  to perform (a dance) with the heels
22.  (tr) golf to strike (the ball) with the heel of the club
23.  rugby to kick (the ball) backwards using the sole and heel of the boot
24.  to follow at the heels of (a person)
25.  (tr) to arm (a gamecock) with spurs
26.  (NZ) (tr) (of a cattle dog) to drive (cattle) by biting their heels
[Old English hēla; related to Old Norse hǣll, Old Frisian hêl]

heel2 (hiːl)
1.  (of a vessel) to lean over; list
2.  inclined position from the vertical: the boat is at ten degrees of heel
[Old English hieldan; related to Old Norse hallr inclined, Old High German helden to bow]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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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."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Medical Dictionary

heel (hēl)

  1. The rounded posterior portion of the foot under and behind the ankle.

  2. A similar anatomical part, such as the rounded base of the palm.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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