From the second edition (1989):
heel, n.1
(hiːl) Forms: 1 héla, hǽla, (hél), 3 heale, 3–6 hele, 4–5 heill, 4–7 heele, 5–7 heille, (5 hyelle, 6 helle, hiele, 7 eel), 6–7 heal(e, 4– heel. [OE. héla, hǽla wk. masc. = OFris. hêla fem., MDu. hiele m. and f., Du. hiel m.; cf. ON. hǽll m. (Sw. häl, Da. hæl):—*hâhil:—*hanhil, deriv. of *hanh-, in OE. hóh hough, heel.]


I. 1. a. The projecting hinder part of the foot, below the ankle and behind the hollow of the foot.

c850 Lorica Gloss. 57 in O.E. Texts 173 Talos, helan. Ibid. 59 Calcibus, helum. c1100 Ags. Voc. in Wr.-Wülcker 266/8 Calx, hela, hoh niþeweard. a1225 Ancr. R. 112 A lutel ihurt i þen eie derueð more þen deð a muchel iðe hele, vor þet fleschs is deadure þere. c1300 Havelok 898 Sparede he neyther tos ne heles. 1375 Barbour Bruce xvi. 596 The gilt spuris, richt by the heill. c1485 in E.E. Misc. (Warton Club) 7 Undure my hyelle is that me grevys, Fore at my hart I fele no sowre. a1529 Skelton P. Sparowe Wks. (1843) 86 To se her treade the grounde With heles short and rounde. 1599 Nashe Lenten Stuffe 24 A fift, of an inflamed heale. 1641 J. Jackson True Evang. T. i. 17 A Serpent, a Basilisk, biting the heele, and stinging the face. 1711 Budgell Spect. No. 77 ⁋8 His Stockings are about his Heels. 1842 Tennyson Morte d'Arthur 286 Then Francis‥drove his heel into the smoulder'd log.


b. The heel armed or fitted with a spur.

c1400 Destr. Troy 6394 Ector‥toke his horse with his helis, hastid before. c1620 Z. Boyd Zion's Flowers (1855) 62 It's time to lend my horse a heele. 1663 Butler Hud. i. iii. 484 Then ply'd, With iron heel, his courser's side. 1792 Osbaldiston Brit. Sportsm. 395 The word heel is taken for the spur itself; hence they say‥‘he knows the heels; he obeys the heels; he answers the heels; he is very well upon the heels’. 1888 Mrs. Kennard Glorious Gallop 92 She gave Galopard a slight touch of the heel, and trotted briskly on.


c. Put for the foot as a whole.

a1225 Juliana 30 Þat hit urne endelong hire leofliche bodi dun to þe helen. a1225 St. Marher. 13 Þe meiden dude swa, leowsede ant leoðede a lutel hire hele. 1586 J. Hooker Girald. Irel. Ep. Ded. Aijb in Holinshed III, His bodie hanged by the heeles at Corke. 1590 Spenser F.Q. ii. xii. 46 His looser garment‥flew about his heeles in wanton wize. 1637 Milton Lycidas 34 Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel From the glad sound would not be absent long. c1718 Prior Hans Carvel 118 He‥was carried off to bed: John held his heels, and Nan his head. 1859 Geo. Eliot A. Bede i. xi, For ye're a stirring body in a mornin', an' ye've a light heel.


d. Cribbage, etc. (See quots.)

1796 Grose's Dict. Vulg. T. s.v., To turn up his heels, to turn up the knave of trumps at the game of all-fours. 1850 Bohn's Hand-bk. Games 275 (Cribbage) Should the turn-up card itself be a Knave, the dealer immediately scores two points‥which by way of antithesis with ‘his nob’, are called ‘two for his heels’. 1882 Society 11 Nov. 9/1 In cribbage parlance, it was one for her nob and two for her heels.


e. heel of Achilles, Achilles' heel: the only vulnerable spot (in allusion to the story of the dipping of Achilles in the river Styx: cf. tendon of Achilles s.v. tendon a).

1810 Coleridge Friend 431 Ireland, that vulnerable heel of the British Achilles! 1864 Carlyle Fredk. Gt. IV. xvii. ii. 522 Hanover,‥the Achilles'-heel to invulnerable England. 1897 G. B. Shaw Let. 2 July (1965) 777 Divorce is the Achilles heel of marriage. 1930 L. D. Bronshtein tr. Trotsky's Life xxv. 262 By his verbal artifices, he only discloses his own Achilles' heel. 1944 Times 19 June 5/6 Military observers have dubbed Viipuri the Achilles' heel of the Finnish defences. 1957 A. E. Coppard It's Me, O Lord! ii. 17 The three R's, the third of which‥was‥my Achilles heel. 1972 Catholic Herald 28 Jan. 1/5 It is this refusal to condemn which is the Achilles heel of contemporary Christian psychology.


f. Horsemanship. Management by the heel (in quot. the spurred heel).

1728 Chambers Cycl. s.v., This horse understands the Heels well. 1792 [see sense 1b above].


2. In quadrupeds and other vertebrates: a. Anatomically, The part of the hinder limb which is the analogue of the human heel; the calcaneal part of the tarsus, whatever its shape or position; in digitigrade and ungulate quadrupeds, and in birds, this is elevated above the ground, and is popularly called knee or hock, also heel of the hock.

1792 Osbaldiston Brit. Sportsm. 93/2 These are of a wenny nature, and grow on the point of the elbow and the heel of the hock. 1874 Coues in Baird, etc. Hist. N.A. Birds III. 545 The heel (calcaneus) is at the top of the tarsus.


b. popularly. (a) In quadrupeds, the hinder part of the hoof; also, each of the projections on the coffin-bone.

1674 N. Cox Gentl. Recreat. (1677) 72 Seek for his Slot: If he findes the Heel thick, and the Toe spreading broad, it argues an old Deer. 1727–51 Chambers Cycl., Heel of a horse, is the lowest hind part of the foot, comprehended between the quarters, and opposite to the toe. 1831 Youatt Horse (1848) 378 On either side [of the coffin-bone]‥are projections called the wings, or heels of the coffin-bone.


(b) More commonly applied (in pl.) to the two hind feet. Also, the hoof or whole foot. See 3a,c.

c1000 Sax. Leechd. I. 346 Wið wambe wræce enim haran helan. c1420 Anturs of Arth. 386 (Douce MS.) His horse in fyne sandel was trapped to þe hele. 1535 Coverdale Gen. xlix. 17 Dan shalbe‥an edder in the path, and byte the horse in the heles [Wyclif feet]. 1577 B. Googe Heresbach's Husb. iii. (1586) 152b, After that, hanging him [Hog] up by the heeles, you shall plucke [etc.]. 1607 Topsell Four-f. Beasts (1658) 245 They must not be afraid of other Horses‥but‥rush into the battle, fighting (as is said) with heels and mouth. a1700 Dryden Ovid's Met. xii. Wks. 1808 XII. 170 He falls; and lashing up his heels, his rider throws. 1847 Tennyson Princ. Prol. 44 She trampled some beneath her horse's heels. c1875 M. Jewry Every-day Cookery 128/2 Put two thoroughly clean cow-heels into a stew pan. 1877 A. B. Edwards Up Nile iv. 91 The donkey kicks up his heels and brays.


(c) In birds, the hinder toe or hallux, the spur.

1611 Markham Countr. Content. i. xix. (1668) 82 A sharp heel'd cock, though it be a little false, is much better than the truest cock which hath a dull heel, and hitteth seldome. 1792 Osbaldiston Brit. Sportsm. 346 His narrow heel, or sharpness of heel, is known no otherwise than by observation in fighting. 1863 Bates Nat. Amazon viii. (1864) 237 Swarms of goatsuckers‥descend and settle on a low branch‥and then, squatting down on their heels, are difficult to distinguish from the surrounding soil.


3. Pregnant uses in reference to the heel or hind foot of man or beast. a. As the instrument of kicking: hence to raise or lift the heel against, to make a heel. In Rugby Football: a heeling of the ball from the scrummage; cf. heel v.1 5b.

c950 Lindisf. Gosp. John xiii. 18 Seðe brucað mec mið þæt hlaf he ahefeð onæn mec hel his. a1225 Ancr. R. 136 Mi leof is ivetted‥& smit me mid his hele. 1382 Wyclif John xiii. 18 He that etith my breed, schal reyse his heele aȝens me. 1535 Coverdale Ps. xl[i]. 9 Yee euen myne owne familier frende‥ hath lift vp his hele agaynst me. 1590 Shakes. Com. Err. iii. i. 15, I should kicke being kickt, and being at that passe, You would keepe from my heeles, and beware of an asse. 1728 Ramsay Fables & T., Ass & Brock 9 Replied the Ass, and made a heel. 1732 Pope Ep. Bathurst 68 With spurning heel. a1822 Shelley Ode Naples 112 Fair Milan‥lifts her heel To bruise his head. 1937 Times 15 Feb. 5/3 A quick heel and the ball went through the hands of [etc.].


b. As the instrument of trampling down or crushing.

1601 Holland Pliny xviii. v, That the lords eie is far better for the land, than his heele. 1819 Shelley Cenci iv. iv, Our innocence is as an armed heel To trample accusation. 1838 Prescott Ferd. & Is. (1842) I. x. 440 The green crop had no time to ripen ere it was trodden down under the iron heel of war. 1867 Goldw. Smith Three Eng. Statesmen (1882) 218 Too hasty in setting his heel on the agents of tyranny and corruption. 1879 H. George Progr. & Pov. v. ii. (1881) 257 Those classes upon whom the iron heel of modern civilization presses.


c. heels: as the hindmost parts displayed by a fugitive; hence as the means of flight. to have or get the heels of: to outrun.

1523 Ld. Berners Froiss. I. cli. 180 Suche as had their horses by them mounted and shewed their horses heles, and thenglysshmen after them in chase. 1583 Stubbes Anat. Abus. i. (1879) 96 He showes them a faire pair of heeles, and away goeth he. 1583 T. Stocker Hist. Civ. Warres Lowe C. i. 96a, The rest, full of lyfe in the heeles, saued them selues. 1599 Shakes. Hen. V, iii. v. 34 Saying, our Grace is onely in our Heeles, And that we are most loftie Run-awayes. 1612–15 Bp. Hall Contempl., O.T. xix. viii, Many a one hath had better counsell from his heeles, then from his elbows. 1647 W. Browne tr. Gomberville's Polexander ii.–iv. 197 One squadron‥he routed and put to their heeles. c1685 Villiers (Dk. Buckhm.) Conf. Wks. 1705 II. 49 Father, your zeal has got the heels of your Discretion. 1719 De Foe Crusoe i. xx, Friday‥had‥the heels of the bear. 1730–6 Bailey (folio) s.v., One Pair of Heels is worth two Pair of Hands, that is, it is better to run for it, than be beaten, where a Man has not the Courage or Force to withstand his Enemy. 1832 Marryat N. Forster xi, Be smart, my lads, for she has the heels of us.


4. In insects: a. The terminal extremity of the tibia; b. The base of the first tarsal joint, when it is curved to join the tibia; the ‘calx’ of Kirby, by him limited to the heels of the four posterior tarsi; c. Leach's name for the bristles forming the strigilis (Century Dict.).

1826 Kirby & Spence Introd. Entomol. III. 386 Calx (the Heel). The curving part of the Planta‥by which it inosculates with the Tibia.


5. a. The part of a stocking that covers the heel; b. The thick part of the sole of a boot or shoe which raises the heel, esp. as high heel.

1577–87 Holinshed Chron., Irel. III. 89/2 He‥bare it awaie in the heele of his stocke. 1596 Shakes. Tam. Shr. iv. i. 136 Gabrels pumpes were all vnpinkt i'th heele. 1634 Sir T. Herbert Trav. 146 Their shooes‥are usually sharpe at the toe‥the heeles shod with thin Iron. 1671 A. Wood Life & Times (1892) II. 226, 4d given to see a man at the King's Head 7 foot and an half high.‥ He had a night gowne on, which made him seem taller, and high heels. 1709 Steele Tatler No. 7 ⁋16 One of his Shoes had lost an Heel. 1714 Gay Trivia i. 31 The wooden Heel may raise the dancer's bound. 1753 in Fairholt Costume (1860) 304 But mount on French heels when you go to a ball. 1849 Macaulay Hist. Eng. I. 397 She determined‥whether his heels must be high or low. 1882 Caulfeild & Saward Dict. Needlework 305/1 Upon the ease with which the heel fits the wearer much of the comfort of the stocking depends. a1898 Mod. She wears high heels. Slippers have no heels. 1950 G. Barker News of World 10 Heavy my heart walks ahead on the pavements With her high-heel shoe my martyrdom on stone.


6. the heel of Italy: the S.E. extremity of that country (which in shape resembles a leg and foot).

1717 Berkeley Tour in Italy Wks. 1871 IV. 556 No mountains in the heel of Italy. 1869 Rawlinson Anc. Hist. 335 The heel of Italy (Iapygia).


7. A part of a thing which has the position or shape of the human heel; the hinder end of the base; a protruding hinder or lower extremity.
a. generally. b. The lower or handle end of a pike, violin bow, etc., or of the blade of a sword, etc.; the crook in the head of a golf-club; the top corner of the butt of a gun when in firing-position at the shoulder; the hinder part of a ploughshare. c. Naut. The after end of a ship's keel; the lower end of a rudder, mast, or piece of timber. d. Arch. ‘The lower end or foot of a rafter where it rests on the wall or plate’ (Knight Dict. Mech.); also, a cyma reversa. e. Horticulture. A projecting bit of older wood taken off with a cutting. f. Silversmiths' work. The small projecting part at the back of the bowl of a spoon. g. The vertical timber of a gate which bears the hinges; the harre. h. Conch. The part of a bivalve shell which bears the joint or hinge. i. heel of the hand: The lower part of the palm, next the wrist. j. heels of a horse-shoe: The turned up extremities; the calkins. k. The lower part of the back of a book. l. (See quot.) m. (See quots.)

a. 1707 Mortimer Husb. (1708) 256 In Hertfordshire they have a particular Sort of Spade‥the Teeth of which being Iron and broad, rakes out the Mould and spreads it; and at the other side there is a kind of heel or knob.
b. 1591 Garrard Art Warre 55 The heele and tippe of their pikes would be equally bolden. 1807 A. Young Agric. Essex (1813) I. 139 The plough heel, comprising the position of the breast behind, and forming, together with the end of the rest, that wedge which fills up the furrow. 1812 Examiner 31 Aug. 552/1 Two hairs on the heel of it [a razor]. 1856 Mrs. C. Clarke tr. Berlioz' Instrument. 12 With the heel of the [violin] bow. 1857 Chambers' Inform. II. 696/2 Heel, the crook of the head [of a golf-club] where it joins the shaft. c1860 H. Stuart Seaman's Catech. 11 On the stock [of a rifle] is a‥heel. 1881 Greener Gun 432 Most gun-stocks are twisted over, that is to say, the toe of the butt is more out of truth with the barrels than the heel. 1890 Gloucestershire Gloss., Heel, the lower part of a scythe blade. 1933 L. G. D. Acland in Press (Christchurch) 28 Oct. 15/7 Heel, the corner of a shear blade, next the grip.
c. 1602 Marston Ant. & Mel. i. Wks. 1856 I. 16 Now gustie flawes strook up the very heeles Of our maine mast. 1769 Falconer Dict. Marine (1789), Talon de la quille, the after-end of the keel, into which the foot of the stern~post is tenented: this is also called the ship's heel. 1840 R. H. Dana Bef. Mast xxx. 107 The tightest ship‥will leak more or less round the heel of the bowsprit. 1858 Merc. Marine Mag. V. 19 She‥went with her heel upon the rocks.
e. 1882 Garden 4 Feb. 85/3 [They] propagate readily from cuttings made of ripened wood, taken off with a ‘heel’. 1889 Co-op. News 6 Apr. 349 The slips [of currant-bush] being about ten inches long, and having a ‘heel’ if possible.
f. 1879 Cassell's Techn. Educ. IV. 413/1 The next operation is stamping upon it the little projection which in trade parlance is called the ‘heel’, and which seems to indicate the juncture of the bowl with the stem.
g. 1854 Jrnl. R. Agric. Soc. XV. ii. 250 The head and heel [of gate], called here the ‘har’, are usually made of elm. 1893 Ibid. Mar. 38 A gate is a rectangular frame consisting of ‘heel’ and ‘head’ and top and bottom rails.
h. 1692 Ray Dissol. World 115 It seems strange to me that two shells should be so adapted together at the heel as to shoot out to the same extension and the upper and nether valve be of different Figure. 1836 Penny Cycl. V. 312 The heel of the larger valve deeply notched up to the border of articulation.
i. 1704 J. Pitts Acc. Mahometans ix. (1738) 222 A hole made in the Heel of each hand. 1887 D. Graham in Buck Hand-bk. Med. Sc. IV. 645/1 The heel of the operator's hand will be used for vigorous friction of the palm. 1888 Elworthy W. Somerset Word-bk., Heel of the hand, the part of the hand on which it rests in the act of writing.
j. 1831 Youatt Horse (1848) 421 The heels of the shoe should be examined as to their proper width. 1886 Pall Mall G. 17 Aug. 14/1 The shoes of the horses have neither toes nor heels, which seems to be a peculiarity of Paris farriery.
k. 1930 Godfrey's Catal. No. 134. 26 Small piece gone from heel, and joint becoming tender.
l. 1880 E. D. Cope in Amer. Naturalist XIV. 836 Stages in the following modification of parts:—‥(6) In the obliteration of the inner tubercle of the lower sectorial. (7) In the extinction of the heel of the same.
m. 1888 Lockwood's Dict. Mech. Engin., Heel, the thick or broad end of a wedge-shaped piece, the broad end of a railway switch for example. 1957 R. Lister Decorative Wrought Ironwork i. 12 The anvil's parts are known by special names.‥ The part of the face and body that terminates in a thick wedge-shaped end is the heel.


8. The crust at the bottom (also, sometimes, the top) of a loaf; the rind of a cheese.

1362 Langl. P. Pl. A. viii. 181, I nolde ȝeue for þi pardoun one pye hele. 1611 Cotgr., Esquignonner, to cut, or breake off a lumpe, cantle, crustie heele, or peece from a loafe of bread. a1774 Fergusson Rising of Session vii, I wat weel They'll stoo the kebbuck to the heel. 1814 Scott Wav. lxiv, The heel o' the white loaf that came from the bailie's. 1849 Dickens Dav. Copp. xi, The heel of a Dutch cheese. 1879 G. F. Jackson Shropsh. Word-bk., Heel, the top crust of a loaf cut off, or the bottom crust remaining.


9. The latter or concluding part of a period of time; also, of a book or writing; in Astrol., of a zodiacal sign: cf. head n.1 19b.

1584 R. Scot Discov. Witchcr. xiii. vii. (1886) 243 That it be not doone in the end, declination, or heele (as they terme it) of the course [of the planet]. 1599 Nashe Lenten Stuffe 47 So but seldome should they meete in the heele of the weeke at the best mens tables, vppon Fridayes and Satterdayes. 1636 B. Jonson Eng. Gram. i. vi, I will promise‥to giue, in the heel of the Book, some spur and incitement to that which I so reasonably seek. 1758 J. Rutty Spir. Diary (ed. 2) 122 Nine hours spent in bed: it is a great deal in the heel of the evening. 1803 Wellington in Owen Wellesley's Desp. 787 The corps‥in a close pursuit at the heel of the day, lost many men. 1847 J. C. Calhoun Wks. IV. 363 The Senate's resolution—passed at the very heel of the session.


II. Phrases.


* With prep. or adv.


10. at, on, upon, †in (one's) heel(s. Close behind; in close pursuit or immediate attendance; also fig. at the hard heels of, at the very heels of: see hard a. 21.

13‥ Gaw. & Gr. Knt. 1899 Renaud com‥& alle þe rabel in a res, ryȝt at his helez. 1390 Gower Conf. I. 18 There bene also somme as men saie, That folwen Simon ate heles. a1555 Latimer Serm. & Rem. (1845) 229 It is but a superstition to think that a Pater Noster cannot be well said without an Ave Maria at its heel. 1571 Golding Calvin on Ps. xlix. 13 Death preaceth hard at your heeles. 1579 Gosson Sch. Abuse (Arb.) 26 Our auncestours, which pursued vertue at the harde heeles, and shunned vyce. 1607 Shakes. Timon i. i. 27 Painter. When comes your Booke forth? Poet. Vpon the heeles of my presentment sir. 1646 Trapp Comment. Numb. xxxii. 23 The guilt will haunt you at heels, as a bloodhound. 1650 Cromwell Lett. 30 July in Carlyle, I marching in the heel of them with the residue of the army. 1674 N. Cox Gentl. Recreat. iii. (1677) 13 To have your Dog at your heels. a1687 Petty Pol. Arith. Pref., The Hollanders are at our heels, in the race of Naval Power. 1749 Fielding Tom Jones xviii. x, Unavailable repentance treads on his heels. 1782 Cowper Gilpin 204 Away went Gilpin, and away Went post-boy at his heels. 1827 Pollok Course T. v, So swift trode sorrow on the heels of joy! 1853 M. Arnold Poems, Sohrab & R., Ruksh, his horse, Follow'd him like a faithful hound at heel. 1860 Tyndall Glac. i. xvi. 112, I‥kept close at his heels.


11. down at heel (adv. and adj.): a. having the heels of one's boots or shoes quite worn down; taken as a symptom of destitution: cf. 12. Also down-at-heels attrib.; down-at-heeledness. b. said of shoes or slippers, when negligently slipped on so that the heel part is crushed down under the foot; also, of persons so wearing their shoes; and fig. slovenly, slip-shod.

1732 Gentl. Instr. (ed. 10) 212 (D.) Sneak into a corner‥down at heels and out at elbows. 1835 Longfellow Outre-Mer Prose Wks. 1886 I. 120 Thus the unhappy notary ran gradually down at the heel. 1840 Barham Ingol. Leg., St. Odille, Her shoes went down at heel. 1860 All Year Round No. 57. 158 Down-at-heel self-neglect. 1875 Tennyson Q. Mary i. i, Fray'd i' the knees, and out at elbow‥and bursten at the toes, and down at heels. 1880 World 8 Dec. 2 Shuffling down-at-heel sentences. 1886 Pall Mall G. 7 Dec. 11/2 If ignorance is bad, assuredly down-at-heel dilettantism is worse. 1906 Daily Chron. 22 Dec. 3/2 A down-at-heels party hailed him as a countryman, and asked ‘the lend of the loan of twopence’. 1919 C. Orr Glorious Thing iv. 37 The old down-at-heel slippers she kept for working. 1924 Down-at-heeledness [see daverdy a.]. 1956 E. C. Hiscock Around World in Wanderer III vi. 68 To hear once more the shrill scream of pigs protesting their passage aboard some down-at-heel schooner. 1963 A. Lubbock Austral. Roundabout 31, The usual two-storey bush pub, rather scruffy and down-at-heel.


12. out at heels (adv. and adj.): with stockings or shoes worn through at the heel; also, of persons wearing such; fig. in unfortunate or decayed circumstances; in trouble or distress.

1553 Wilson Rhet. (1567) 82b, Some riche snudges‥go with their hose out at heles. 1588 Fraunce Lawiers Log. i. iv. 27 To affectate such woordes as were quite worne out at heeles and elbowes long before the nativitie of Geffray Chawcer. 1605 Shakes. Lear ii. ii. 164 A good mans fortune may grow out at heeles. 1676 Wycherley Pl. Dealer iii. (1735) 74 Go look out the Fellow‥that walks with his Sword and Stockings out at Heels. 1747 W. Horsley Fool (1748) II. No. 83. 254 My present Situation being, as I may say, a little out at Heels.


13. to heel. Of a dog: close behind, in behind; under rule. Also as a word of command: heel! Also fig.

1810 Sporting Mag. XXXVI. 149 They will back, or come to heel, as commanded. 1849 James Woodman xiii, To heel, good dog. 1870 Huxley Lay Serm. iii. (1874) 35 Whose passions are trained to come to heel. 1873 G. C. Davies Mount. & Mere vi. 45 We did so, the dogs, a spaniel and a retriever, keeping to heel. 1878 C. Hallock Amer. Club List & Sportsman's Gloss. p. vi, Heel, the order to dogs to come behind the gunner. 1923 D. L. Sayers Whose Body? ix. 200 The dog‥barked.‥ ‘Heel,’ said the man in velveteen, violently. The animal sidled up, ashamed. 1935 G. Heyer Death in Stocks ii. 13 She‥was chiefly occupied in keeping back a powerful bull-terrier.‥ ‘Shut up, you fool!’ commanded the girl. ‘Heel!’ 1971 M. Tripp Five Minutes with Stranger i. vi. 64 She was saying ‘Heel’ in a voice that would have quelled a riot in hell.


** With another substantive.


14. heel and toe. a. adv. With proper walking, as opposed to running; also as adj. and n. b. Of dancing (also heel over toe).

1820 W. Irving Sketch Bk., Christm. Eve (1865) 251 Master Simon‥was endeavoring to gain credit by the heel and toe, rigadoon, and other graces of the ancient school. 1827 T. Hamilton Cyril Thornton (1845) 277 With that sort of walk, generally called heel and toe, he led his fair partner to her station. 1837 Dickens Pickw. xl, Bravo—heel over toe—cut and shuffle. 1861 Hughes Tom Brown at Oxf. xiv, They returned to college, having done a little over fifteen miles, fair heel and toe walking. 1883 Black Shandon Bells iii, A curious clamping and shuffling, as if some one were doing a heel-and-toe step on a wooden floor. 1892 A. M. Yoshiwara Episode 33 He spent the best part of the day in a healthy heel-and-toe to Ojigoku.


c. Of motoring. Also as v. (see quot. 1962). So heeling-and-toeing vbl. n.

1937 O. Stewart Learn to Drive viii. 63 A method of gear changing‥is that which employs heel-and-toe operation of clutch and accelerator pedals at the same time. 1962 Which? (Suppl.) July 96/2 If you want to, you can ‘heel-and-toe’—work brake and accelerator at the same time. 1966 T. Wisdom High-Performance Driving viii. 73 Use of the ‘heel-and-toe’ technique‥reduces the time and distance taken to complete the slowing-down and gear-change operations. 1966 R. Maxwell in T. Wisdom High-Performnce Driving viii. 72 Heeling and toeing‥involves double-declutching into a lower gear while braking. 1973 ‘J. Ashford’ Double Run xiv. 114 With heel-and-toe braking and gear changing he flicked down through the gears.


15. a. heels over head. With the heels in the air and the head downmost; upside down; to turn heels over head, to turn a somersault.

13‥ E.E. Allit. P. C. 269 He [Jonas] glydez in by þe giles, þurȝ glaymande glette‥Ay hele ouer hed hourlande aboute. 1768 Ross Helenore 64 (Jam.), I couped Mungo's ale Clean heels o'er head. Ibid. 86 (Jam.) Now by this time the house is heels o'er head. 1814 Wordsw. Excurs. viii. 387 They‥An uncouth feat exhibit, and are gone Heels over head. 1864 Carlyle Fredk. Gt. IV. 523 A total circumgyration, summerset, or tumble heels-over-head in the Political relations of Europe. 1886 Tennyson Locksley Hall 60 Yrs. After 135 Tumble Nature heel o'er head.
attrib. 1887 Century Mag. Nov. 49/1 What'll happen if you go on in this heels-over-head way?


b. So (Sc.) heels over gowdy.

1796 Burns Poem on Life 37 Soon, heels-o'er-gowdy! in he gangs. 1819 W. Tennant Papistry Storm'd (1827) 150 Heels-over-gowdie whurlin'.


*** With a verb.


16. cast or throw at‥heel(s. To cast under foot, reject with contempt. Obs.

1555 W. Watreman Fardle Facions App. 350 Those that‥threwe not at their hieles those thinges that Moyses had taughte them. 1576 Gascoigne Steele Gl. (Arb.) 56 Wherein I see, a corps of comely shape‥Is cast at heele, by courting al to soone. a1628 Preston Breastpl. Faith (1630) 24 They resist it, casting it at their heeles. 1659 D. Pell Impr. Sea 593 The States of England throw not their dear and costly purchased Victories at their heels.


17. dig in one's heels: see dig v. 11c.


18. kick one's heels. To stand waiting idly or impatiently. Cf. to cool one's heels, s.v. cool v. 5.

1760 Foote Minor ii. (1781) 51 To let your uncle kick his heels in your hall. 1833 Marryat P. Simple xiii, I'll trouble him [not] to leave me here kicking my heels.


19. lay, set, clap by the heels. To put in irons or the stocks; to fetter, arrest, or confine; also, fig. to overthrow, disgrace. So to have by the heels; and, of the person confined, to lie or be tied by the heels.

c1510 Hickscorner in Hazl. Dodsley I. 170, I will go fetch a pair of gyves, For in good faith he shall be set fast by the heels. 1584 R. Scot Discov. Witchcr. iii. xv. (1886) 51 One of Q. Maries justices‥laid an archer by the heeles. 1654 G. Goddard Introd. Burton's Diary (1828) I. 160 When they had seized upon him and clapped him by the heels. 1700 Luttrell Brief Rel. (1857) IV. 638 The lord cheif justice‥will lay the undersherif by the heels. 1781 F. Burney Diary Aug., I supposed you would have finished it [a play] in your last fit of sickness‥pray go on with it when you are tied by the heel next. 1865 Kingsley Herew. II. xvi. 274 Tell him Hereward has‥half a dozen knights safe by the heels. 1889 Baltimore (Md.) Sun 19 Nov., The bold offender‥would have been quickly set by the heels.


20. take to one's heels; formerly to (be)take himself to his heels, to take one's heels. To run away.

1542 Udall Erasm. Apoph. i. 127 When this Manes had taken his heeles and renne awaye from his maister. 1548 Hall Chron., Hen. VII, 49 So deceavyng his kepers [he] toke him to his heeles. 1583 Stubbes Anat. Abus. ii. (1882) 54 They‥betake them to their heeles as to their best refuge. 1590 Shakes. Com. Err. i. ii. 95 Nay, and you will not sir, Ile take my heeles. 1600 Holland Livy xxxiii. xxxvi. 845 The Gaules‥turned their backe, tooke them to their heeles, and ran away. 1659 B. Harris Parival's Iron Age 7 The Tartars‥as soon as they‥find the Poles advancing, betake themselves to their heels. 1690 W. Walker Idiomat. Anglo-Lat. Pref. 1 Let us take our heels and run away. 1809 W. Irving Knickerb. vii. xi. (1849) 440 The rabble incontinently took to their heels. 1889 Jessopp Coming of Friars ii. 93 The beholders would have‥taken to their heels and run for their lives.


21. trip (kick, strike, throw) up a person's heels. To trip up, upset, or overthrow (him); also fig.

1600 Shakes. A.Y.L. iii. ii. 225 It is yong Orlando, that tript vp the Wrastlers heeles, and your heart, both in an instant. 1618 J. Taylor (Water P.) King's Majesty Wks. (1872) 3 Thy Constancy hath trip'd up Fortune's heel. 1678 Bunyan Pilgr. i. 174 It shall go hard but they will throw up his heels. 1706 Addison Rosamond vii. Wks. 1721 I. 123 Death has tripped up my heels. 1887 Baring-Gould Gaverocks III. 58, I wish it were in my power to kick up his heels.


22. turn one's heels. To run away. Obs.

1586 J. Hooker Girald. Irel. xxv. in Holinshed III. 19/1 He turneth a faire paire of heeles and runneth awaie. Ibid., Irel. 142/1 [They] turned their heeles, forsooke the field, and dispersed themselues into the woods. c1620 Z. Boyd Zion's Flowers (1855) 120 Big looking minions‥make hast To turne their heeles.


23. turn on (upon) one's heel. To turn sharply round, turn back or away.

1751 Fielding Amelia III. ix. vii. 283 Instead‥of attempting to follow her, he turned on his Heel, and addressed his Discourse to another Lady. 1757 W. Thompson R.N. Advoc. 38 L——d V——e‥turn'd short on his Heel, telling me he knew nothing of the Matter. 1782 F. Burney Cecilia I. 61 Sir Robert‥turned upon his heel, and was striding out of the room. 1834 M. Scott Cruise Midge viii, He turned round on his heels, and marched out of the cabin. 1887 Edna Lyall Knt.-Errant xii. 102 Carlo had turned sharply round on his heel and left him without a word.


24. turn (kick, tumble) up a person's heels. To knock (him) down; to lay low; to kill. So to turn (kick, lay, tip, topple) up one's heels, to die.

c1500 Maid Emlyn (Halliw.), He toke a surfet with a cup, That made hym tourne his heels up. 1577–87 Holinshed Chron., Irel. III. 93/2 He strake him with his bullet full in the forehead‥and withall turned vp his heeles. 1599 Nashe Lenten Stuffe 13 Of which [sickness]‥seauen thousand and fifty people toppled vp their heeles there. 1604 Dekker Honest Wh. Wks. 1873 II. 8, I would not for a duckat she had kickt vp her heeles. 1611 Cotgr., Passer oultre, to tipe vp the heeles, to die. c1620 Z. Boyd Zion's Flowers (1855) 155 Nowe Shechem's gone, he hath laid up his heeles. 1641 Best Farm. Bks. (Surtees) 29 Oftentimes (after a longe declininge and goinge backe) [they] turne up theire heeles. 1648 Gage West. Ind. vi. 17 Our men with one reasonable Cup of Spanish Sacke presently tumbled up their heeles, and left them like swine. 1688 Bunyan Heavenly Footman (1886) 148 He hath turned up their heels, and hath given them an everlasting fall. 1845 Browning Flight of Duchess xvii. 33 His heels he'll kick up, Slain by an onslaught fierce of hiccup.


**** Other phrases.


25.a. to bless the world with one's heels, to be hanged.b. to cast or lay (one's) heels in one's neck, to leap headlong or recklessly. c. to run back the heel, run heel or hunt heel, hunt it by the heel, take it heel, to run back on the scent; to hunt or run counter; also to run heel-way (27c). d. with the heels foremost or forward, as a corpse is carried.

a. 1566 Painter Pal. Pleas. 63 The three theues were conueied foorth, to blesse the worlde with their heeles.
b. 1599 Nashe Lenten Stuffe 8 His yeomen bolde cast their heeles in their necke, and friskt it after him. 1676 Cotton Walton's Angler ii. 281 These stones are so slippery I can not stand!‥ I think I were best lay my heels in my neck and tumble down!
c. 1674 N. Cox Gentl. Recreat. (1677) 16 When the Hounds or Beagles hunt it by the Heel, we say, they Hunt Counter. 1781 P. Beckford Hunting (1802) 148 A fault‥which such hounds must of necessity sometimes be guilty of; that is, running back the heel. 1828 Sporting Mag. XXII. 232, I cannot help challenging a stale scent, or, speaking more technically, taking it heel. 18‥ Rec. N. Devon Staghounds 45 (Elworthy) The whole pack took it heel, and were stopped before they reached the edge of the covert. 1888 Elworthy W. Somerset Word-bk., Heel, hounds following the scent in the wrong direction are said to ‘be running heel.’ 1897 D. H. Madden Diary Silence 51 He was merely hunting counter (or heel, as it is now called). 1923 Times 17 Jan. 5/5 The old Melbreak hounds will never run heel. 1946 M. C. Self Horseman's Encycl. 455 When hounds hit the line and run it backwards they are said to ‘run heel’.
d. 1670 G. H. Hist. Cardinals ii. ii. 147 He was clapt in Prison, and came not out but with his heels forward. 1701 Cibber Love makes Man iv. ii, Car. How came you hither, Sir! D. Lew. Faith, like a Corpse into Church, Boy, with my Heels foremost.


III. attrib. and Comb.


26. General, as heel-back, heel-beam, heel-catcher, heel-chaser, heel-dance, heel-end, heel-kicker, heel-leather, heel-loop, heel-stitch, heel-strap; heel-clacking, heel-clicking, heel-sliding, heel-treading vbl. ns. and ppl. adjs.; heel-fast, heel-free, heel-hurt adjs.

1936 Times 9 Jan. 4/1 A quick *heel-back from a loose scrummage. 1827 H. Steuart Planter's G. (1828) 242 Others‥have added what they denominate a ‘*Heel-beam’ 18 in. out from the axle or cross-bar‥in front of the axle, and next to the draught-bar, to which the horses are put. 1646 Trapp Comm. Gen. xxv. 26 Calcanearius, an *heel-catcher, or supplanter. 1938 Dylan Thomas Let. 1 June (1966) 199 It's the dog among the fairies‥the wizard's *heel-chaser. 1922 Joyce Ulysses 515 A firm *heelclacking is heard. 1928 Blunden Undertones of War 155 Strutting with redoubled vanity and *heel-clicking. 1970 R. Parkes Death Mask v. 64 The abrupt, heel-clicking return of Castilla. 1951 Koestler Age of Longing i. iv. 58 Loose, springy limbs which seemed specially designed for the Kaukasian *heel-dance. 1807 Vancouver Agric. Devon (1813) 119 At the *heel-end [in a drill-plough] of this sole, a perpendicular bar is inserted. 1887 Flo. Marryat Driven to Bay III. xv. 241 Clinging to the heel end of the spar. 1896 Ch. Times 2 Apr. 403 Rogues who are lying *heel-fast in gaol. 1948 B. Vesey-Fitzgerald Bk. Dog 223 Ten minutes a day for three days and most puppies will be ‘*heel-free’ in the pen. a1569 A. Kingsmill Man's Est. ix. (1580) 45 Wee are but *heele hurted, but he shall be wounded in the head. 1926 D. H. Lawrence Let. 19 Jan. (1932) 647 Murry‥wrote me impertinently‥that I was a professional *heel-kicker. 1794 W. Felton Carriages (1801) II. 123 A *heel-leather to shelter the legs behind. 1880 Turner & Co.'s Catal. Tools (Sheffield) 66 Common brown Skate Straps, with *heel loops. 1859 Dickens Haunted Ho. viii. 48 There ensued such toe-and-heeling‥and double-shuffling, and *heel-sliding. c1740 Fielding Ess. Conv. Wks. (1840) 640 Three dancing-masters‥the *heel sophists. 1882 Caulfeild & Saward Dict. Needlework 306/2 Place together the pin holding the *heel stitches and those holding the foot stitches.


27. Special combinations: a. in Shoemaking (see sense 5), as heel-blank (also blank heel), a set of ‘lifts’ built up into a heel for attachment to a shoe; heel-block, a block used in fastening a blank heel or a ‘lift’ to a shoe; heel-breast, in a shoe, the inside edge of the heel, adjoining the waist; so heel-breaster, an operator who cuts heel-breasts; also, the tool used; heel-breasting, the cutting of heel-breasts; heel-cutter , a tool for cutting out the ‘lifts’ which form the heel of a boot or shoe; heel-fastener (see quot.); heel-iron = heel-plate 2; heel-lift, one of the pieces of leather, etc., of which the heel of a shoe is built up; heel-maker, one who makes the heels of shoes; heel-parer, one who shapes and trims heel-blanks; heel-quarters, the part of the shoe round the heel, the counter; heel-scourer, one who scours the surface of heels; heel-seat, the part of the sole to which the blank heel is attached; heel-shave, a tool like a spoke-shave, used to shape the heel; heel-tip = heel-plate 2 (Simmonds Dict. Trade 1858); heel-trimmer, a machine for trimming and shaping the edges of the ‘lifts’ or heel-blank.

1600 Dekker Gentle Craft Wks. 1873 I. 23 Hoe, boy, bring him an *heele-blocke, heers a new-journeyman [shoemaker]. a1666 A. Brome On Death Josias Shute 32 He was no whirligig lect'rer of times, That from a heel-block to a pulpit climbs. 1921 Dict. Occup. Terms (1927) §429 Scourer‥designated according to parts upon which he works, e.g. bottom or naumkeag scourer, heel scourer, *heel-breast scourer. 1905 Westm. Gaz. 30 Oct. 7/3 The same firm have several other novelties, including an automatic Louis *heel-breaster. The uninitiated may like to know that ‘heel-breasting’ is the operation of bevelling out the curve on the inside edge of the heel to the familiar half-moon or other shape. 1921 Dict. Occup. Terms (1927) §414 Heel breaster; cuts breast on front of heel square. 1888 Penton & Son's Shoe Mercery Catal., *Heel Fastener, a Metal Plate for placing between the Sock and Innersole and attaching firmly all round the Seat of Shoe to Wood Heel. 1875 Knight Dict. Mech. 1094/2 The *heel-lifts are cut to graduated size, and merely require beveling after attachment. 1660 Chas. II Esc. fr. Worcester in Harl. Misc. (1744–6) IV. 423/1 A Captain of the Rump, one Broadway, formerly a *Heel-maker. 1723 Lond. Gaz. No. 6196/8 Joseph Cook‥Heelmaker. 1881 Instr. Census Clerks (1885) 76 *Heel Parer. 1904 Daily Chron. 11 June 8/6 Boot Trade.—Wanted good heel parers and heel scourers. 1798 Coleridge Satyrane's Lett. in Biog. Lit. (1817) 252 Countrywomen and servant girls‥with slippers without *heel-quarters, tripped along the dirty streets. 1921 *Heel scourer [see bottom-scourer s.v. bottom n. 19]. 1885 Harper's Mag. Jan. 284/2 The crude heel is pressed upon the ‘*heel seat’ of the shoe.


b. Nautical (see sense 7c), as heel-brace, ‘a piece of iron-work applicable to the lower part of a rudder, in case of casualty to the lower pintles’ (Smyth Sailor's Word-bk.); heel-chain, a chain for holding out the jib-boom; heel-jigger, a jigger or light tackle fastened to the heel of a spar to assist in running it in and out; heel-knee, ‘the compass-piece which connects the keel with the sternpost’ (Smyth); heel-lashing, ‘the rope which secures the inner part of a studding-sail-boom to the yard; also, that which secures the jib-boom’ (Smyth); heel-tackles, ‘the luff purchases for the heels of each sheer previous to taking in masts, or otherwise using them’ (Smyth).

1847 A. C. Key Recov. H.M.S. Gorgon 24 The upper purchase was hauled taut, and heel tackles clapped on. c1860 H. Stuart Seaman's Catech. 74 The heel of the jib-boom has a sheave for the heel rope to reeve through, a score for the heel chain.


c. In other uses: heel bug, a harvest mite, Trombicula autumnalis, or the skin disease it causes in horses; heel-cap, a cap or protective covering for the heel of a shoe or stocking; whence heel-cap v. trans., to put a heel-cap on (a shoe or stocking); heel-clip, a part of a sandal used when a horse has cast a shoe; heel-dog, one that comes or keeps to heel; a retriever; heel-fly, ‘a bot-fly, Hypoderma lineata, that attacks the heels of cattle in Texas’ (Funk); heel-joint (Ornith.), the joint between the crus or leg and the tarsometatarsus or shank of a bird, the suffrago; †heel-lifter, a runaway; heel-pad, (a) a pad in the heel of a boot; (b) see quot. 1874; heel-ring, the ring securing the blade of a plough (Halliwell 1847–78); that by which the blade of a scythe is fixed on the snathe; heel-string, the Tendo Achillis (Syd. Soc. Lex.); heel-tool (see quot.); heel-tree, the swingle-tree of a harrow (Halliw.); heel-way adv., backward on the scent (see sense 25c); heel-wedge, (a) a wedge used to fasten the coulter; (b) a wedge used to tighten the heel-ring of a scythe (Halliw.).

1920 Vet. Rec. 6 Nov. 218/1 *Heel bug, or harvester, Leptus autumnalis, is an annual source of trouble to thoroughbreds in training. 1931 Daily Tel. 22 May 19/7 Lady Marjorie is suffering from lameness in the off-hind heel, due to variola, which is a similar complaint to heel-bug. 1950 W. E. Lyon First Aid Hints Horse Owner (rev. ed.) iv. 87 Heel Bug. As a rule only well-bred horses with thin skins are affected. The heels will be swollen and painful: lameness may also be present. 1954 P. Smythe Jump for Joy v. 83 She had contracted a heel bug disease. 1968 G. Lapage Vet. Parasitol. (ed. 2) xxxii. 771 T[rombicula] autumnalis may be the cause of ‘heel-bug’ of racehorses. 1813 W. Beattie Fruits Time Parings 34 [He] *heel-caps his hose. 1859 J. Brown Rab & F. 8 His heavy shoes‥heel-capt and toe-capt. 1831 Youatt Horse (1848) 429 The *heel clips are two clips at the heels of the side bars. 1887 Field LXX. 569/3 Any man‥would with ease dispose of twenty ‘*heel’ dogs ere he was asked for one ‘Hold up’ one. 1889 Farmer Americanisms, *Heel Fly, an insect pest which infests cattle on Western ranches. 1583 T. Stocker Hist. Civ. Warres Lowe C. i. 132b, Amongest the lustie *heele lifters‥a good manie‥were driuen to returne. 1874 Coues Gloss. in Baird, etc. Hist. N.A. Birds III. 545 *Heel-pad, pterna, tuber‥The posterior portion of pelma, immediately under the foot-joint, and frequently prominent. (But heel-pad should not be used in this connection, since the heel (calcaneus) is at the top of the tarsus, and not at the bottom, where the heel-pad lies.) 1894 Westm. Gaz. 12 July 3/3 The knees are squeezed in a vice‥and heel-pads inserted in the boots. 1849–50 Weale Dict. Terms, *Heel tool, a tool used by turners for roughing out a piece of iron, or turning it to somewhat near the intended size: it has a very acute cutting edge and an angular base or heel. 1873 N. & Q. 4th Ser. XII. 198/1 There is a sporting phrase, to ‘run *heel-way’, when, after a check, hounds take up the scent in the wrong direction, running back towards the start. 1523 Fitzherb. Husb. §4 In the settyng of the culture: and with the dryuinge of his syde wedges, forewedge and *helewedge.