Main definitions of heel in English

: heel1heel2heel3

heel1

noun

  • 1The back part of the human foot below the ankle.

    • ‘Knees are bent and held in front of the chest, with the heels positioned below the hips.’
    • ‘This pointing pulls the heel and ankle bones forward putting a great deal of rubbing on the skin on top of the ankle bones and over the tendon in front of the ankle.’
    • ‘The commonest ankle sprain is when the heel or foot turn inwards in relation to the lower leg, overstretching the ligaments on the outside of the ankle.’
    • ‘Instead, he prescribes taking a stance with your heels directly below your body and focusing on keeping your torso upright.’
    • ‘The balls of your feet should be on the platform, with your heels slightly below.’
    • ‘Instead of merely cushioning the user's foot, the Pump system offers a custom fit while protecting the heel, the ankle and the collar area of the foot.’
    • ‘If I were to try to locate the sensations I'd say they were at the bottom of my leg in my heel / ankle/toes.’
    • ‘The classic swelling of the toes, heels, ankles, and wrists was labelled ‘regular gout’.’
    • ‘This causes the foot to be sharply angled at the heel, with the foot pointing up and outward.’
    • ‘Then push your foot all the way up in the boot - when you flex the ankle, the heel shouldn't slide up more than half an inch.’
    • ‘When the phantom pains are coming on strong the illusion is complete; I can feel my toes, my heel and my ankle even if I can't see them.’
    • ‘The ability, and willingness, to fall forward from your ankles while keeping your heel down is key.’
    • ‘My legs and feet drew a lot of attention, especially my ankles and heels.’
    • ‘Slight changes in pressure in your toes, heels and ankles are enough to manoeuvre you and the board in the correct direction.’
    • ‘Then, she began to wrap it firmly around her ankle, starting at the heel of her foot and going half way to her knee.’
    • ‘Briefly, subjects stood with their heel, calf, buttocks, back, and head fixed with a strap against a vertical backboard.’
    • ‘Grasp the foot of your injured leg with your hand and slowly pull your heel up to your buttocks.’
    • ‘The tendon is attached to the back of the heel and is pulled by two muscles in the calf.’
    • ‘She had broken her shin bone and fractured the inside of her ankle and heel.’
    • ‘Start with both heels on the floor and point your feet upward as high as you can.’
    1. 1.1The back part of the foot in vertebrate animals.
      • ‘From its surprisingly small feet spread white, feathery wings at its heels.’
      • ‘These animals also have spurred heels, but these appear to be a feature of both sexes in the young, the females losing them as they mature.’
      • ‘If you can (and your horse will stand for you), try drying off their heels with a hair dryer on a cool setting after the once weekly wash.’
      • ‘Cows' heels would not seem to be plump, fruitful, delicious or in any way edible but, strangely enough, they are considered a delicacy by some, especially in Barbuda.’
    2. 1.2The part of a shoe or boot supporting the heel.
      ‘shoes with low heels’
      • ‘They are a plain looking, solid sort of shoe with a chunky heel, quite rigid support and come in an infinite range of colours and limited editions.’
      • ‘Mine are presently a half-inch above the heel of my shoes.’
      • ‘A shoe with a distinct heel will be much, much easier to walk in.’
      • ‘The authors recommend shoes with low heels or better still, none at all.’
      • ‘Shoes should have adequate arch support and cushioned heels.’
      • ‘Are women as focused on those things as they are with getting, say, the newest Gucci shoes with bamboo heels?’
      • ‘As for the sole, the wedge heel has crept into men's shoe styles.’
      • ‘A low heel is more professional than flats or high heels.’
      • ‘I step on it with the heel of my shoe - I certainly didn't miss them.’
      • ‘He scuffed a pit in the snow with the heel of his shoe.’
      • ‘Instead of the flats women normally wore, the heel of the shoe was extended a good deal so it appeared that they wearer would be walking on their toes.’
      • ‘He crushed his cigarette stub out beneath the heel of his shoe.’
      • ‘The heel of her shoe broke off, but she ran up the stairs anyway.’
      • ‘As the heel of my shoe tapped against the ground it made a click like noise, which echoed through the long narrow corridor.’
      • ‘I spun around on the heel of the shoes and almost collapsed into a bar stool, but luckily the counter was there for me to catch.’
      • ‘No one returns a pair of Gucci shoes claiming that the heel isn't durable.’
      • ‘He ground the heel of his shoe into the feebly sparking wire and scowled.’
      • ‘In interviews with police officers I wore a skirt, blouse, tights, shoes with a slight heel, and a little make-up.’
      • ‘It started when I kicked my right ankle with the heel of my left shoe.’
      • ‘Wood floors must be adequately protected from damp and soft timbers can be easily gouged by heels, chair legs and animal claws.’
      wedge, wedge heel, stiletto, stiletto heel, platform heel, spike heel, Cuban heel, kitten heel, Louis heel, stacked heel
      View synonyms
    3. 1.3The part of a sock covering the heel.
      • ‘As he stood with one foot on the top step, it was quite obvious that he had a hole the size of a silver dollar in the right heel of his maroon sock.’
      • ‘Changing out of his painting clothes after a somewhat disappointing day in his studio, he noticed the worn spot on the heel of his sock.’
      • ‘Your sock's heel should fit snugly around your heel.’
      • ‘The heel is a double knitted fabric, which I think helps the sock to stay up since it pulls the fabric in at the ankles.’
    4. 1.4heelsHigh-heeled shoes.
      • ‘The three inch brown suede heels seemed like sneakers on her joyous feet.’
      • ‘She wore a short black dress, her black walking heels, and a tight red cardigan with just the middle button done up over the dress.’
      • ‘People don't seem to understand that modeling is not just getting on the catwalk and walking in heels.’
      • ‘She looked perfect, wearing a vintage summer dress with heels, her blonde hair framing her face in gentle waves.’
      • ‘She was wearing an off white gown with matching heels, and her hair hung down over her shoulders.’
      • ‘I strained in my heels to make our lips meet but he turned his head before they could.’
      • ‘She wanted to look into his eyes but that would mean raising her head and if she did that, because he was so near and she was wearing heels, her lips would be mere centimetres from his.’
      • ‘She was quite tall, wearing a long black dress with heels, and her hair was cut into a short ‘bob’.’
      • ‘She slipped on a pair of heels, twisted her hair up in a clip, and gracefully walked out of her room.’
      • ‘Standing there in front of the mirror in my dress and heels, with my hair and make-up done, I felt way overdressed for anything.’
      • ‘I stood there a moment longer, teetering on my heels, my stomach lurching and twisting, waiting for him to turn around and see me.’
      • ‘She was jogging in a pair of bright red heels, matching tank top, and a white, linen skirt.’
      • ‘She was dressed in a gray wool skirt and white shirt and black heels, not very fashionable, very plain, even for my taste.’
      • ‘She wore a red tank top with a dark blue jean miniskirt accompanied with black heels.’
      • ‘She purred before turning in her mini skirt and heels and heading down the hall.’
      • ‘He dived into my closet and re-emerged with a floating black skirt, a dark scarlet tank-top, and black heels.’
      • ‘By time I made it to the stairs, I slipped on my heels and felt a hem in my dress tear.’
      • ‘She wore a tailored black pantsuit, black heels, and double strands of pearls around her neck and one wrist.’
      • ‘She sort of remembered wearing the camisole and heels maybe once or twice, but the pants and scarf seemed to be brand new.’
      • ‘Her clothes matched with her hair, consisting of a short black skirt, green shirt, and black heels.’
  • 2The part of the palm of the hand next to the wrist.

    ‘he rubbed the heel of his hand against the window’
    • ‘I closed my eyes a moment, rubbing the center of my forehead - just between my eyebrows - with the heel of my palm.’
    • ‘Claire sniffles, rubbing at her eyes with the heel of her palm.’
    • ‘He rubbed his eye with the heel of his palm and smiled widely.’
    • ‘The young cadet clutched his head, hammering the heel of his palm against his forehead.’
    • ‘The palm heel should rest just above the horizontal line linking the eyebrow with the base of the ear.’
    • ‘He closed his eyes, pressing the heels of his palms to his forehead.’
    • ‘I closed my eyes, pressing the heel of my palm against my forehead.’
    • ‘He leaned back against the wall, shut his eyes, and gently bashed the heel of his palm into his forehead.’
    • ‘The older fighter stood there in an empty stance as if he were simply holding a conversation, until the moment she struck at his chest with the heel of her left palm.’
    • ‘He struck her in the chest with the heel of his palm and Liz staggered backwards.’
    • ‘Pressing the heels of my palms against my eyes I tried to shut out the threatening tears and held my breath to keep from weeping.’
    • ‘She shoved the heels of her palms into her eyes as fresh tears flowed.’
    • ‘It's executed with the inside edge of your hand where your thumb is, not the meaty part near the heel of the palm.’
    • ‘Luckily, the heel of her palm caught her before she hit the stone ground.’
    • ‘Before slamming the heel of his palm into the front door he closes his eyes to imagine the silence that will sweep over his eagerly awaiting audience as he walks onto center stage.’
    • ‘I fell quiet, rubbing the heels of my hands over my face.’
    • ‘The sting of fingernails in the heel of my hand told me that my fist was clenched.’
    • ‘Kneel at his or her feet, put the heel of one hand above his or her navel, put the other hand over your fist with the fingers of both hands pointing toward his or her head.’
    • ‘He stopped and smacked himself in the forehead with the heel of his hand.’
    • ‘He sighed and dropped his forehead against the heel of his hand, digging the spoon into his bowl.’
  • 3The end of a violin bow at which it is held.

    1. 3.1The part of the head of a golf club nearest the shaft.
      • ‘Irons from the 1930s, for example, had a center of gravity high on the clubface and well toward the heel.’
      • ‘The iron's center of gravity is toward the heel and higher than in the company's more forgiving irons.’
      • ‘On the first tee, he hit a shot off the heel and almost hit somebody's head in the gallery.’
      • ‘Some golfers hit it off the heel because they dip their upper bodies toward the ball during the swing.’
      • ‘In a poor set-up position, the heel of the putter is off the ground; my left wrist is arched and my left elbow is well away from my side.’
      • ‘This causes the heel of the clubface to make contact with the ball first, producing sidespin and, presto, a slice.’
      • ‘I have no idea why the club is not working for you, but there is no harm in adding some lead tape to the back of the head, a little toward the heel.’
      • ‘Jeff said at first it felt uncomfortable, as if his hands were higher and the heel of his club was off the ground.’
      • ‘To maintain the loft, feel as if the heel of the club leads the shot.’
      • ‘As a result, the heel of the club was digging into the sand.’
      • ‘Adding weight to the heel area helps the clubface rotate, or close, through impact.’
      • ‘The guy had caught it so far in on the heel that the ball had literally rolled between his legs.’
    2. 3.2A piece of the main stem of a plant left attached to the base of a cutting.
    3. 3.3A crusty end of a loaf of bread, or the rind of a cheese.
      • ‘He seized the heel of black bread that was resting next to the bowl, scraped out the inside, and dipped it in the soup.’
      • ‘She plopped down her bowl of stew and heel of crusty bread, holding the mug of cider in her hand as she sat.’
      • ‘He had just finished soaking up the last of his roast beef with a heel of bread.’
      • ‘Such behaviour is just unfathomable to me, like throwing out the heel of the bread or cutting the fat off rashers.’
      • ‘Diana was counting the tiny cracks branching off of the main one when a dirty hand thrust a heel of bread under her nose.’
      tail end, crust, end, remnant, remainder, remains, stump, butt, vestige
      View synonyms
  • 4informal, dated An inconsiderate or untrustworthy person.

    ‘what kind of a heel do you think I am?’
    • ‘Chief Executives have gone from heroes in gray pinstriped suits to heels in orange jumpsuits.’
    1. 4.1(in professional wrestling) a wrestler who adopts a mean or unsympathetic persona in the ring.
      ‘he played the perfect wrestling heel, arrogant, overly aggressive, yet the first to run away when the odds are not in his favour’

verb

[with object]
  • 1Fit or renew a heel on (a shoe or boot)

    ‘they were soling and heeling heavy working boots’
    • ‘In fact, if you are dining there he will lend you a pair of flip-flops to get back to your chair while he heels your soles.’
  • 2(of a dog) follow closely behind its owner.

    ‘these dogs are born with the instinctive urge to heel’
    • ‘Once your puppy is heeling properly, it's time to teach him to sit.’
    • ‘Now I let it off the chain and it follows me everywhere, obediently heeling.’
    • ‘Three weeks ago, Mary appeared on the TV programme, teaching a dog how to heel to a TV theme tune.’
  • 3Golf
    Strike (the ball) with the heel of the club.

    ‘I heeled the shot and hit a line drive through the fence and into the putting green area.’
  • 4Rugby
    Push or kick (the ball) out of the back of the scrum with one's heel.

    ‘the ball was eventually heeled out’
    • ‘They swiftly heeled a scrum on the champions' line, and Thomson cleverly waited while he assessed his options.’
    • ‘Within ten minutes, the ball is heeled by the Scottish forwards and sent out to the wing.’
    • ‘Such preliminary use of a foot would be a new skill to today's players, though much of the time it would merely amount to heeling the ball with the feet in a concerted rucking drive.’
  • 5no object Touch the ground with the heel when dancing.

    ‘they got into lines and began to heel, toe, and then jump together’

exclamation

  • A command to a dog to walk close behind its owner.

    ‘‘Heel’ I said and Rusty obeyed.’
    ‘I was getting a little scared I wouldn't get her back so I shouted ‘HEEL!’’

Phrases

    cool one's heels
    • 1

      see heel

      • ‘Well, drivers will have to cool their heels in traffic.’
      • ‘The reporters who stay cool their heels in the lobby.’
      • ‘There we all were, cooling our heels in a hotel lobby waiting for our first appointments of the day.’
      • ‘Perhaps cooling his heels all these years was worthwhile.’
      • ‘And all this while the King of Spain was left cooling his heels at the bar.’
      • ‘Why does Irwine want Adam to cool his heels for ten days, doing nothing?’
      • ‘When I finally get to them after they've been cooling their heels for five or ten minutes they generally drop a dollar on the bar.’
      • ‘But she can just cool her heels.’
      • ‘You could make an appointment with your doctor for the day after tomorrow - and then cool your heels for 40 minutes in an overheated waiting room.’
      • ‘Joburgers will have to cool their heels with some freezing weather this month, before the summer rains set in.’
    • 2Be kept waiting.

      ‘their delegation was left cooling their heels for days’
      • ‘Their ages meant they were part of the groups of teenage boys who hung around, kicking their heels and getting bored.’
      • ‘Life companies have come under intense pressure to reduce their exposure to stock markets, leaving activist fund managers kicking their heels.’
      • ‘The three-week break from rugby union has given most injuries time to heal, but York faced the prospect of kicking their heels for another week.’
      • ‘For those not involved, international weeks can often prove an interminable bore, a week or more of kicking their heels instead of a ball.’
      • ‘While we've been playing the top Welsh sides, they've been kicking their heels, so we knew their fitness wouldn't be up to it.’
      • ‘Many footpaths remain closed, leaving walkers kicking their heels or taking to Tarmac or perhaps heading for the coast.’
      • ‘In such circumstances, home-grown hopefuls were left kicking their heels on the sidelines.’
      • ‘After nine months of kicking our heels, it's starting to look like we're finally going to see some action.’
      • ‘I'll be with the team until kick-off and I'll then have to take my seat in the stands, kicking my heels at missing out.’
      • ‘But instead, he was kicking his heels in frustration 12,000 miles away at his home in the suburbs of Sydney.’
      • ‘But before the summer was over the timber yard had closed and John Hunter was back home, kicking his heels once more.’
      • ‘There, in LA, he kicked his heels, picked up some music tips and eventually played guitar like his hands had been sent to him by the gods.’
      • ‘But with the season rapidly drawing to a close, Yorkshire sense that every day is vital and it was frustrating for the players having to kick their heels instead of trying to make certain of nailing the title after a wait of 33 years.’
      • ‘Little wonder that Ross, who was to kick his heels for the remainder of the tournament, joined a small army of others to express his incredulity in public.’
      • ‘At her last London press conference she kept journalists cooling their heels for hours while the podium was reset to favour her preferred profile.’
      • ‘After half-an-hour cooling my heels, I carried on to Chesterfield.’
      • ‘After two hours cooling my heels in Bath Street, I'm happy to toe that line.’
      • ‘And all this while the King of Spain was left cooling his heels at the bar.’
      • ‘Surrounded by fragrant pine woods, it's an ideal place to cool your heels.’
      • ‘One chapter sees him kicking his heels in a film executive's waiting room, eager to get a break.’
    at (or to) heel
    • (of a dog) close to and slightly behind its owner.

      • ‘Their big shaggy sheepdogs with matted pelts stayed close at heel.’
      • ‘Off he would set on his rounds with his faithful collie dog at heel and following, some way behind, was the goat.’
      • ‘By the end of the song, which has no tune whatsoever, and a performance from the singer that could bring dogs to heel, you feel a bit like squealing and pulling a wacky face yourself.’
      • ‘I want to do nothing more than watch the children go roller-skating by, or simply observe that healthy, handsome bloke cross the road with his big, black dog at heel.’
      • ‘There are several ways to teach your dog to walk to heel, but you should choose and stick to one to avoid confusing him.’
    bring someone to heel
    • Bring someone under control.

      ‘a threat that brought Edward to heel’
      • ‘There was no government watchdog to thank for bringing him to heel.’
      • ‘If we don't enforce the Act to that end, then the courts will bring us to heel.’
      • ‘If the perpetrators come from a few districts and some dubious ‘communes’, it's difficult to understand why the forces of law and order have not been able to bring them to heel.’
      • ‘When a similar party (Austrian Freedom Party) became a coalition partner in Austria, the EU took immediate action to bring them to heel.’
      • ‘Will I knuckle under and write nothing about the Treasurer that isn't positive, or will a threatening call to my boss's boss be needed to bring me to heel?’
      • ‘But, on occasion, it was also necessary to bring them to heel.’
      • ‘If youngsters and teenagers are so out of control that we have to roll up our streets at midnight just to bring them to heel, we've missed the point.’
      • ‘These are people who, whether they were guilty or not, were targeted by very powerful forces determined to bring them to heel.’
      • ‘Where spoilers are identified, peacekeepers must be able to engage in robust and aggressive action to bring them to heel.’
      • ‘This was the man who had promised the Council of the Wise that he could bring me to heel.’
      • ‘The result is an increasingly difficult relationship between the US and British governments on one side and Western journalists, who are not used to being brought to heel, on the other.’
      • ‘Adopted in Britain in 1999, they are now regarded as the only way in which young thugs who terrorise neighbourhoods without actually breaking the law can be brought to heel.’
      • ‘Should the Internet be brought to heel now whilst there is still time, or should it be treated like other mediums, such as magazines and videos, in which some uses are deemed a necessary evil?’
      • ‘I doubt it, but it is good to see ordinary citizens rising up, through the criminal justice system, to bring the Democratic Party to heel.’
      • ‘This is, of course, hostile to the world of those with ‘abstract reasons’ who wanted him to bring the world to heel.’
    in the heel of the hunt
    Irish
    • At the last minute; finally.

      ‘in the heel of the hunt, the outcome of the match was decided by a penalty’
      • ‘If the instant experts continue on their merry way, giving the deaf ear to the voice of reason and experience, the players will be the biggest losers in the heel of the hunt when injury strikes, aided and abetted by a shorn pitch.’
      • ‘But, in the heel of the hunt, I'd much prefer the smoking ban as currently mooted to be implemented.’
      • ‘The catalogue of blunders at either end would have filled a notebook, but in the heel of the hunt both should give thanks for a reasonably safe delivery, even if one or the other might regret the two points left behind.’
      • ‘Both teams deserve credit for their open play and in the heel of the hunt United deserved their win.’
    kick up one's heels
    North American
    • Have a lively, enjoyable time.

      • ‘She had no idea of the paces we would put her through or do but by Wednesday she was dancing, kicking up her heels, doing a whole number, a tango thing with the dancers.’
      • ‘Steamboat Springs is also known for its western hospitality so bring your cowboy boots and belt buckles, kick up your heels, and be prepared to enjoy yourself.’
      • ‘Do you kids feel that you need to kick up your heels?’
      • ‘The mother-daughter duo kick up their heels and kick off the second season of their reality show tomorrow.’
      • ‘Diane, who passed away in early June, after an awe-inspiring battle with pancreatic cancer, would have, as one press member put it, ‘shrugged her shoulders,’ then gone off to kick up her heels from pure joy!’
      • ‘But the young ones had something entirely different in mind, and proceeded to run, buck, and twirl on the ice, kicking up their heels.’
      • ‘But while property sharks may be kicking up their heels, small-time Plateau landowners and their tenants are bearing the brunt.’
      • ‘His men were playing a banjo tune and kicking up their heels.’
      • ‘All let their worries go, and went back to their young days kicking up their heels, and having a ball.’
      • ‘At 95, that merry widow is still kicking up her heels.’
      • ‘Wear clothes you wouldn't want your neighbours to see, get a henna tattoo, have a few drinks, kick up your heels and most important of all… smile at strangers and meet the locals!’
      • ‘Once you have reached a stage of utter bliss, kick off the comfy shoes, kick up your heels and head for any of the bars or nightclubs where you can work off your sumptuous meal by dancing the night away.’
      • ‘They chase each other around, climb over stuff - they're so happy they want to kick up their heels.’
      • ‘It was a warm night but people seemed to want to kick up their heels.’
      • ‘With the women in one circle (no one to impress now girls so we can just kick up our heels!) and the men in another, the guests whirl the bride and groom around, dancing with them and surrounding them with concentric circles of joy.’
      • ‘‘No,’ I reply, ‘it's for people like you and me who want to kick up our heels at a certain age.’’
      • ‘Smelling the roses and kicking up your heels while you are still young enough to enjoy it is an aim for many hard-working professionals.’
      • ‘Lees did have some time to kick up her heels outside of the classroom as well.’
    at (or on) the heels of
    • Following closely after.

      ‘he headed off with Sammy at his heels’
      • ‘Following hard on the heels of the German jazz group is an Indian jazz pianist.’
      • ‘The move follows hard on the heels of an acquisition which has seen business gains in the west of Scotland.’
      • ‘The move follows hot on the heels of two other UK acquisitions by the company in recent weeks.’
      • ‘There it follows hard on the heels of introductions to the academic essay and the personal essay.’
      • ‘Hard on the heels of this competition will follow the Spanish Open at the same location.’
      • ‘The trainer was philosophical about his victory coming hard on the heels of his loss.’
      • ‘Disaster follows on the heels of calamity for the northernmost part of North America.’
      • ‘This latest incident followed close on the heels of a robbery last week.’
      • ‘This followed on the heels of a teacher who wrote a prayer for a student to give during an end of year banquet.’
      • ‘Set to follow hot on the heels of leafy displays are the ultimate in chic garden greenery: green flowers.’
      • ‘It's closure follows on the heels of a number of other high profile shut-downs.’
      • ‘It follows on the heels of another decision to raise the economic output of the region up to the national average.’
      • ‘The deal follows hot on the heels of last month's agreement for an exact twin company in Austria.’
      • ‘The announcements come hard on the heels of the end of the strike on March 9.’
      • ‘They come hard on the heels of a compliment from a spectator or another player.’
      • ‘Last week's announcement in Cork came hard on the heels of another important development in June.’
      • ‘These come hard on the heels of the revolt over foundation hospitals.’
      • ‘Hot on its heels is a seriously perturbed tortoise racing for the horizon in this Costa Rican forest.’
      • ‘On the heels of the Crusades, a new attitude towards women began to manifest itself in Europe.’
      • ‘The success of the first one had brought another on its heels.’
    set (or rock) someone back on their heels
    • Astonish or disconcert someone.

      ‘she said something that rocked me back on my heels’
      • ‘Then, just as the team seemed to be establishing a foothold, two interceptions set them back on their heels.’
      • ‘A tremendous drive set them back on their heels, forcing them to concede a penalty.’
      • ‘They counter attack from deep in their own defence and our forwards should have been tackling them with a ferocity that would have disrupted them and rocked them back on their heels near their own lines.’
      • ‘But the home side seemed galvanised early on, some ferocious tackling rocking Queensland back on their heels.’
      • ‘An early goal could have rocked Brighton back on their heels.’
    take to one's heels
    • Run away.

      • ‘They stopped and searched the youth, finding nothing, but he was so frightened by the confrontation he took to his heels.’
      • ‘A horse standing there took to his heels in fear and galloped 200 yards at full speed round the fenced area.’
      • ‘Mr Robinson then felt convinced that something serious was about to take place, and he took to his heels and ran for it.’
      • ‘When negotiation and a verbal retreat, however undignified, is not an option, I take to my heels.’
      • ‘They took to their heels, fleeing into the surrounding bush.’
      • ‘While many traders took to their heels, others managed to hide the endangered species.’
      • ‘Then, overcome by bravery, we took to our heels and ran.’
      • ‘I took to my heels and ran in and they started running too.’
      • ‘Upset and shouting, Buck took to his heels and dashed out of the room, the wooden door banging on its hinges behind him as his cowboy boots clattered on the timber porch.’
      • ‘When he took to his heels, some petrol splashed on his clothing.’
      • ‘Ignoring a cab waiting at the kerb, in her desperation to get away from what seemed like a nightmare Iris took to her heels and ran.’
      • ‘With that, Kate took to her heels and ran, making sure to nudge Sam a little off-balance before she went.’
      • ‘If something creepy appeared on the television he would get to his feet and politely leave, taking to his heels like a scalded cat.’
      • ‘He began to embrace her but she fought him off, taking to her heels again.’
      • ‘Six months ago, he also made a gang of car thieves take to their heels when he grabbed them by the ankles.’
      • ‘Even small children and young girls turn out to watch the fun; no wonder they are chased away and take to their heels.’
      • ‘Then, all at once, the two took to their heels and ran off.’
      • ‘They abandoned their plans for the night's entertainment and took to their heels, praying the alley had an open end.’
      • ‘We took to our heels across the bridge and shifted back into our positions with the rest of the column.’
      • ‘When she was out of sight, the man also took to his heels in case the woman quickly found out what was contained in the plastic bag and followed him.’
    under the heel of
    • Dominated or controlled by.

      ‘a population under the heel of a military dictatorship’
      • ‘Have those societies, tribes, castes, and languages of the Low Life of New York disappeared under the heel of gentrification, or are writers just not working hard enough these days as chroniclers?’
      • ‘He has seen his country crushed under the heel of a ‘liberating’ force which has destroyed its monasteries, killed its religious leaders, and done its best to obliterate its native culture.’
      • ‘As the Iron Curtain fell across Europe after the end of the war, Poland was swept behind it and under the heel of Joseph Stalin - a dictator as cruel as Adolf Hitler was.’
      • ‘I guess it's just the fate of men, to be under the heel of beautiful women.’
      • ‘It tells of a nation struggling to be born under the heel of oppression.’
      • ‘One of the reasons we watch movies is to escape from real life into a world where the good guys in the white hats win in the end, where the guy gets the girl, and where visionary entrepreneurs aren't ground under the heel of corporate America.’
      • ‘The president explicitly declares that the population, which has barely avoided coming under the heel of a military dictatorship, must not be told about the conspiracy, because it would create disorder!’
      • ‘The various planets have united under one political umbrella after a bitter war that saw those planets that craved independence crushed under the heel of centralisation.’
      • ‘The company, which now specialises in the manufacture and distribution of personal care and cosmetic products, has been under the heel of its bankers for some time now.’
      • ‘Of course, feminists would argue that the idea that men are now crushed under the heel of power-wielding, all-controlling women is complete rubbish.’
    turn on one's heel
    • Turn sharply round.

      ‘he turned on his heel and strode out’
      • ‘Her friends were there now so she just turned on her heel and walked away round the corner.’
      • ‘With that, she swiftly turned on her heel and disappeared as she rounded the corner to her destination.’
      • ‘He turns on his heel and walks off toward the street.’
      • ‘She turns on her heel and quickly returns with our drinks in small, metallic pots and chipped mugs.’
      • ‘Each one of them wanted to meet the challenge, but I had to explain to them quite fast what I wanted from them, to stop them turning on their heel.’
      • ‘Val had to listen to some ridiculous questions at that meeting, and I don't blame him for turning on his heel and leaving.’
      • ‘So go he does, turning on his heel and slinking out with the cringe of a dog that's been kicked one too many times.’
      • ‘And with that, I turned on my heel and walked out the back door.’
      • ‘I turned on my heel, into the lounge and ordered a bottle.’
      • ‘They parted like the Red Sea and I stepped past them, then turned on my heel so that I could keep an eye on the fight.’
      • ‘Steven turned on his heel and stalked off to the kitchen leaving his dad to wonder what was going on.’
      • ‘Mr Bright said he ‘then pounded his fists on the bar, turned on his heel and stormed out’.’
      • ‘At which point he turned on his heel and continued down the carriage.’
      • ‘He turned on his heel to leave the room, the applause ringing out behind him.’
      • ‘After a few moments demanding cash, the eight-times married actress turned on her heel and disappeared into the back of a black limo.’
      • ‘And then you have to turn on your heel and go back the way you came.’
      • ‘The day I stand up and address a jury and my stomach isn't churning then I will just turn on my heel and walk out of court and never come back.’
      • ‘If I were to walk into a place of business tomorrow and discover that you were the one with whom I must interview, I would turn on my heel immediately and never return.’
      • ‘When they issue an order, I might question it a little bit, but pretty soon I'm going to salute, turn on my heel, and execute it.’
      • ‘My friend turns on his heel and exits the quiet, comfortable train.’
    kick one's heels
    British
    • Pass time idly while having to wait for someone or something.

      ‘the midfielder has been kicking his heels on the sidelines this season’

Origin

Old English hēla, hǣla, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hiel, also to hough.

Pronunciation

heel

/hiːl/

Main definitions of heel in English

: heel1heel2heel3

heel2

verb

[no object]
  • 1(of a boat or ship) lean over owing to the pressure of wind or an uneven load.

    ‘the boat heeled in the freshening breeze’
    Compare with list
    ‘the Mary Rose heeled over and sank in 1545’
    • ‘As the wind increased, the yacht heeled over to a precarious angle and its bow was being continually submerged by the oncoming swell.’
    • ‘The worst thing, we agreed, was putting on the oilskins in such conditions, whether on a fishing boat or a yacht heeled well over and battering her way into a difficult sea.’
    • ‘Even as he spoke, the ship heeled over in the rising wind, and he moaned.’
    • ‘As the galley righted itself, another wave struck from the other side, and the ship heeled over so far its mainsail almost touched the water.’
    • ‘As he was waiting, the boat suddenly heeled over.’
    • ‘As the conditions worsened, said Mr Pritchard, the boat heeled over on to her side twice, injuring two crewmen.’
    • ‘Suddenly the boat heeled to an angle of 45° under a gust of wind from the port side, catching me unprepared and out of position.’
    • ‘The wind caught the sails with a dull boom and the ship heeled about, tacking into the westerly breeze sweeping across the lake.’
    • ‘When we hit bad weather in the open ocean, and the whole boat was heeling at an angle not conducive to sleep or gravity, the trainees would often get scared, and panicky - which sometimes translated into aggression and violence.’
    • ‘‘The yacht was heeling over at 35 degrees, and the effort to get up the steps was beyond belief,’ she says.’
    • ‘Julia, who had never set foot on a ship before, clutched the rigging in alarm when the ship first heeled over with the stiff breeze.’
    • ‘Entering a small type of entrance, the ship was about to anchor when we heeled over for a brief instant.’
    • ‘The boat heeled over hard as they hit the opposing wind that circulated in harbour.’
    • ‘A great gasp went up as the ship listed heavily, and looked as though she would heel over completely.’
    • ‘The two vessels clung together for less than a minute before the Umpire heeled to port and went down.’
    • ‘My favourite memory of a tall ship is standing at the helm of the Lord Nelson under full sail, feeling her heel over in a stiff breeze until her port deck was awash.’
    lean over, list, cant, careen, tilt, tip, incline, slant, slope, keel over, be at an angle
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1with object Cause (a boat or ship) to lean over.
      ‘the boat was heeled over so far that water sloshed over the gunwales’
      • ‘Placed too high up on a sailboat's mast, the radar might miss seeing a nearby target on the windward side when a boat is heeled over.’

noun

  • 1An instance of a ship heeling.

    ‘This system is designed to compensate for wind and heel and control roll, yaw and surge.’
    1. 1.1mass noun The degree of incline of a ship's leaning measured from the vertical.
      ‘This would result in a boat that has identical stability to that of the standard boat up to 38-40 degrees of heel.’
      ‘She knew what the best angle of heel was for a swift passage.’

Origin

Late 16th century from obsolete heeld, hield ‘incline’, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch hellen.

Pronunciation

heel

/hiːl/

Main definitions of heel in English

: heel1heel2heel3

heel3

verb

[with object]heel something in
  • Set a plant in the ground and cover its roots.

    ‘the plants can be heeled in together in a sheltered spot’
    • ‘Of course if the weather is very cold when your plants arrive, this is the only option for them, since if it's too cold for planting then it's also too cold to heel plants in.’
    • ‘They're bare roots and so far I've left them packed in their plastic bags and in the garage, but as I don't have their permanent containers yet I will need to heel them in today.’
    • ‘Find a way to heel it in in such a way that the amount of sun and wind the root ball receives is minimal.’

Origin

Old English helian ‘cover, hide’, of Germanic origin, from an Indo-European root shared by Latin celare ‘hide’.

Pronunciation

heel

/hiːl/