First Name
in the U.S.
since 1880
Last Name
in the U.S.
in 2010
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Meaning and Origin

What does the name Keel mean? Find out below.

Origin and Meaning of Keel

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Webster's Unabridged Dictionary
verb Keel
To cool; to skim or stir.

Etymology: AS. cēlan to cool, fr. cōl cool. See Cool

noun Keel
A brewer's cooling vat; a keelfat.
noun Keel
  1. [Shipbuilding] A longitudinal timber, or series of timbers scarfed together, extending from stem to stern along the bottom of a vessel. It is the principal timber of the vessel, and, by means of the ribs attached on each side, supports the vessel's frame. In an iron vessel, a combination of plates supplies the place of the keel of a wooden ship. See Illust. of Keelson.
  2. Fig.: The whole ship.
  3. A barge or lighter, used on the Tyne for carrying coal from Newcastle; also, a barge load of coal, twenty-one tons, four cwt.(Eng)
  4. [Bot] The two lowest petals of the corolla of a papilionaceous flower, united and inclosing the stamens and pistil; a carina. See Carina.
  5. [Nat. Hist] A projecting ridge along the middle of a flat or curved surface.
  6. [Aeronautics] In a dirigible, a construction similar in form and use to a ship's keel; in an aëroplane, a fin or fixed surface employed to increase stability and to hold the machine to its course.

Etymology: Cf. AS. ceól ship; akin to D. & G. kiel keel, OHG. chiol ship, Icel. kjōll, and perh. to Gr. gay^los a round-built Phœnician merchant vessel, gaylo`s bucket; cf. Skr. gōla ball, round water vessel. But the meaning of the English word seems to come from Icel. kjölr keel, akin to Sw. köl, Dan. kjöl

verb Keel
  1. To traverse with a keel; to navigate.
  2. To turn up the keel; to show the bottom.
Other Dictionary Sources
  1. One of the main longitudinal beams (or plates) of the hull of a vessel; can extend vertically into the water to provide lateral stability
  2. The median ridge on the breastbone of birds that fly
  3. A projection or ridge that suggests a keel
  4. Walk as if unable to control one's movements

From Middle English kele, from Old Norse kjǫlr, itself from Proto-Germanic *keluz.

  1. (nautical) A large beam along the underside of a ship’s hull from bow to stern.
  2. (nautical) Sometimes, a rigid, flat piece of material anchored to the lowest part of the hull of a ship to give it greater control and stability.
  3. (aeronautics) In a dirigible, a construction similar in form and use to a ship's keel; in an aeroplane, a fin or fixed surface employed to increase stability and to hold the machine to its course.
  4. (nautical) A type of flat-bottomed boat.
  5. A material similar to chalk or crayon used to mark pavement.
  6. (zoology) The periphery of a whorl extended to form a more or less flattened plate; a prominent spiral ridge.
  7. (botany) The two lowest petals of the corolla of a papilionaceous flower, united and enclosing the stamens and pistil; a carina.
  8. A brewer's cooling vat.

keel was also found in the following language(s): Dutch and Estonian

Notable Persons With the Last Name Keel

Howard Keel was an actor/singer, actor, and singing. He was most active from 1943 to 2002. Howard was given the name Harry Clifford Keel on April 13th, 1919 in Gillespie, Illinois. He breathed his last breath on November 7th, 2004.


John A. Keel was a journalist, parapsychology, ufology, parapsychologist, and ufologist. John was born on March 25th, 1930 in Hornell, New York. He breathed his last breath on July 3rd, 2009.


Ron Keel is a heavy metal music, glam metal, and country music singing and songwriter. Ron was given the name Rynia Lee Keel Jr. on March 25th, 1961. Ron is also known as Ronnie Lee Keel.


Stephen Keel is a soccer player for the FC Dallas, Wake Forest Demon Deacons, IMG Academy Bradenton, Colorado Rapids, Seattle Sounders (1994–2008), Portland Timbers (2001–10), and New York Red Bulls. Stephen was born on April 11th, 1983 in Littleton, Colorado, United States.


Frederick was born on May 8th, 1871. He breathed his last breath on August 9th, 1954.


Carl was born in 1885. He passed away in 1961.


Where is the name Keel popular?

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Popularity of Keel as a last name

The map shows the absolute popularity of the name Keel as a last name in each of the states. See other popular names in North Carolina, Alabama, or Texas.

Ethnicity Distribution

Ethnicity Keel U.S.
  White 79.49% 64.26%
  African American 13.58% 11.96%
  Asian, Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander 0.93% 4.85%
  American Indian and Alaska Native 1.69% 0.69%
  Two or More Ethnicities 2.49% 1.76%
  Hispanic or Latino 1.82% 16.26%

Of Last Name Keel

People with the last name Keel are most frequently White or African American

Entire United States

Fun Facts about the name Keel

  • How Popular is the name Keel? As a last name Keel was the 4,090th most popular name in 2010.
  • When was the first name Keel first recorded in the United States? The oldest recorded birth by the Social Security Administration for the name Keel is Wednesday, August 4th, 1886.
  • How unique is the name Keel? From 1880 to 2017 less than 5 people per year have been born with the first name Keel. Hoorah! You are a unique individual.
  • Weird things about the name Keel: Your name in reverse order is Leek. A random rearrangement of the letters in your name (anagram) will give Eelk. How do you pronounce that?
  • How many people have the last name Keel? In 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau surveyed 8,682 people with the last name Keel.
  • How likely are you to meet someone with the last name of Keel? If you manage to meet 100,000 people in your life, chances are that 3 of them will have Keel as their last name.

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  • Sources:
  • U.S. Census Bureau: Frequently Occurring Surnames from the Census 2000 (public domain).
  • 1913 Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary via the Collaborative International Dictionary of English (License)
  • Other Dictionary Sources: WordNet 3.1 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University (License).
  • Wiktionary: Titles and License.
  • Notable persons via Wikipedia: Titles and License. Click each image for the attribution information.