on an even keel

From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:

Keel \Keel\, n. [Cf. AS. ce['o]l ship; akin to D. & G. kiel
   keel, OHG. chiol ship, Icel. kj[=o]ll, and perh. to Gr.
   gay^los a round-built Ph[oe]nician merchant vessel, gaylo`s
   bucket; cf. Skr. g[=o]la ball, round water vessel. But the
   meaning of the English word seems to come from Icel. kj["o]lr
   keel, akin to Sw. k["o]l, Dan. kj["o]l.]
   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.
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   2. Fig.: The whole ship.
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   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.]
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   4. (Bot.) The two lowest petals of the corolla of a
      papilionaceous flower, united and inclosing the stamens
      and pistil; a carina. See Carina.
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   5. (Nat. Hist.) A projecting ridge along the middle of a flat
      or curved surface.
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   6. (Aeronautics) In a dirigible, a construction similar in
      form and use to a ship's keel; in an a["e]roplane, a fin
      or fixed surface employed to increase stability and to
      hold the machine to its course.
      [Webster 1913 Suppl.]

   Bilge keel (Naut.), a keel peculiar to ironclad vessels,
      extending only a portion of the length of the vessel under
      the bilges. --Ham. Nav. Encyc.

   False keel. See under False.

   Keel boat.
      (a) A covered freight boat, with a keel, but no sails,
          used on Western rivers. [U. S.]
      (b) A low, flat-bottomed freight boat. See Keel, n., 3.

   Keel piece, one of the timbers or sections of which a keel
      is composed.

   On even keel, in a level or horizontal position, so that
      the draught of water at the stern and the bow is the same.
      --Ham. Nav. Encyc.

   On an even keel a. & adv., steady; balanced; steadily.
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