1660s (the experience itself is described from 1620s), from Dutch kielhalen, literally "to haul under the keel," an old punishment for certain offenses; from kiel- (see keel (n.)) + halen "to haul, pull" (see haul (v.)). Hence, figuratively, "to reprimand severely." Related: Keelhauled. German kielholen, Danish kjølhale, Swedish kölhala also are from Dutch. Related: Keelhauling.
updated on May 20, 2019