AskDefine | Define careen

Dictionary Definition

careen n : pitching dangerously to one side [syn: rock, sway, tilt]


1 walk as if unable to control one's movements; "The drunken man staggered into the room" [syn: stagger, reel, keel, lurch, swag]
2 move sideways or in an unsteady way; "The ship careened out of control" [syn: wobble, shift, tilt]

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. To heave a ship down on one side so as to expose the other, in order to clean it of barnacles and weed, or to repair it below the water line.
  2. To tilt on one side.
  3. To sway violently from side to side or lurch.
  4. To career.


to heave a ship down on one side so as to expose the other
  • Norwegian: kjølhale
to tilt on one side
  • Norwegian: krenge
to sway violently from side to side or lurch
  • Norwegian: slingre, skrense

Derived terms


Extensive Definition

Careening a sailing vessel means to beach it at high tide in order, usually, to expose one side or another of the ship's hull for maintenance below the water line when the tide goes out. Small boats, as in the photo, need not always be laid over.
The process could be assisted by securing a top halyard to a fixed object such as a tree or rock to pull the mast over as far as possible. Maintenance might include repairing damage caused by dry rot or cannon shot, tarring the exterior to reduce leakage, or removing biofouling organisms such as barnacles to increase the ship's speed. A particularly well-protected area might be called "Careening Bay" to the locals. Pirates would often careen their ships because they had no access to dry docks. A secluded bay would suffice and this is where they would careen their ships for necessary repairs and/or hull cleaning. This would make the ships faster, and therefore more capable of overtaking prize vessels.
At one extreme of the spectrum was the ancient practice of beaching a ship on a shingle beach with the goal of using wave action and the shingle to scour the hull.

Careening in popular culture

Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island contains a reference to the practice: the Hispaniola is purposely beached on the island. Although the purpose of this is to avoid the uncertainties of anchoring her with nobody aboard, that a piratical crew member would be quick with the suggestion—and the means of freeing the ship later—shows his familiarity with the practice.


careen in Danish: Kølhaling (skibsrengøring)

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ascend, bank, blunder, bob, bobble, cant, capsize, career, climb, coggle, come a cropper, culbuter, dangle, decline, descend, dip, drop, fall, fall away, fall down, fall flat, fall headlong, fall off, fall over, fall prostrate, falter, flounce, flounder, fluctuate, flutter, get a cropper, go downhill, go uphill, grade, heel, incline, keel, keel over, labor, lay down, lean, librate, lie along, list, lurch, nutate, oscillate, overset, overthrow, overturn, pendulate, pitch, pitch and plunge, plunge, rake, reel, resonate, retreat, rise, rock, roll, seethe, shake, shelve, sidle, slant, slope, sprawl, spread-eagle, stagger, struggle, stumble, subvert, swag, sway, swerve, swing, swinging, take a fall, take a flop, take a header, take a pratfall, take a spill, thrash about, tilt, tip, tip over, topple, topple down, topple over, topsy-turvify, topsy-turvy, toss, toss and tumble, toss and turn, totter, trip, tumble, turn a somersault, turn over, turn topsy-turvy, turn turtle, turn upside down, uprise, upset, upturn, vacillate, veer, vibrate, volutation, wag, waggle, wallop, wallow, wave, waver, weave, welter, wobble
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