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Lieve Verschuier, Het kielhalen van de scheepschirurgijn van admiraal Jan van Nes (The Keelhauling of the Ship's Surgeon of Admiral Jan van Nes, c. 1660–1686), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The surgeon is depicted tied to ropes with his hands above his head and suspended from the mast of the large ship on the left side of the painting.


keelhaul +‎ -ing.



keelhauling (plural keelhaulings)

  1. (nautical) The act by which a person is keelhauled.
    • 1883 November 14, Robert Louis Stevenson, Treasure Island, London: Cassell and Company, →OCLC:
      ‘We was a-talkin’ of keel-hauling,’ answered Morgan. / ‘Keel-hauling, was you? And a mighty suitable thing, too, and you may lay to that. Get back to your place for a lubber, Tom.’
    • 2007, Darius Rejali, “Choking”, in Torture and Democracy, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, →ISBN, page 282:
      The British, French and Dutch navies also practiced a grimmer form of choking. Sailors hung the victim from the lowest beam (the yardarm) of the main mast on one side of the ship and then, using pulleys, dragged him with ropes beneath the ship's keel to the other side of the long beam. This was called “keelhauling.” Keelhauling was not some ancient nautical torture. It originated with the modern navy. [] The British abolished keelhauling in 1720 and the French and Dutch in 1750. The practice continued unofficially for some years afterward, but there are no British records of keelhauling after 1770, and the last Dutch record was in 1806.
  2. (slang, obsolete, by extension) A thorough thrashing or mauling; rough treatment.



  • John Camden Hotten (1873) The Slang Dictionary



  1. present participle and gerund of keelhaul.