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To slump or fall over, typically from fainting or death. The phrase is typically used in a humorous way, especially when it refers to someone (hypothetically) dying. It was so hot that I thought I would keel over and pass out if I didn't get some air soon. Grandpa always used to tell us this silly story about the time when his friend ate a sour pickle and keeled over and died right then and there.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
keel something over
Rur. to push something over. He leaned on the flimsy wall and keeled it right over. The high wind keeled over that sorry old fence.
[for a person] to fall over or fall down in a faint or in death. It was so hot in the room that two people just keeled over.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Collapse, as if in a faint; also, faint. For example, When she heard the awful news, she keeled over. This term alludes to a vessel rolling on its keel and capsizing. [Mid-1800s]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
1. To fall over; capsize: The ship keeled over when it hit the iceberg.
2. To collapse or fall into or as if into a faint: I keeled over when I heard the bad news.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.