Even Keeled or Even Keel – Usage & Meaning

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

All aboard the grammar ship! I’ll navigate you through the meaning of the term even-keeled. This phrase is no stranger to the sailing world, but we also use it on dry land to describe everything from moods to business climates. So, sit tight as I chart the course of even-keeled through the waters of etymology and usage.

Is It Even Keeled or Even-Keeled?

Even Keeled vs Even Keeled Ngram
Even-keeled and even keeled usage trend.

Suppose you’re getting caught up in whether to split or hyphenate this term. In that case, you’ll be glad to know that both versions are used. Still, the hyphenated even-keeled is more common in American English because it’s an adjective comprised of two words.

If you’re using the noun version, even keel, then there’s no need for a hyphen, and you’d spell it as two separate words.

Even Keel Meaning Explained

Even Keeled or Even Keel Usage Meaning 1

An even keel is a ship’s balance in the water, neither tilting to one side nor the other. In more metaphorical terms, when we use it to describe a person or situation, even-keeled means being calm, steady, and balanced, or not given to sudden changes in mood or behavior.

Have you ever known someone to be steady and calm in tense situations? Or someone who doesn’t panic in dangerous scenarios? You could describe them as even-keeled.

My cousin is a paramedic, and she’s seen it all; things that should have put her in therapy. But she’s probably the most level-headed and calm person I know, in and out of work.

What Is the Noun for Even-keeled?

As I mentioned above, the noun form of even-keeled is even keel. You can use it to describe the state of balance or stability.

  • The project continued on an even keel under her guidance.

Origin and Etymology of Even-Keeled

The phrase even keel originates from the maritime world. No surprise there! It refers to the desired state of a ship being level in the water, which makes for smoother sailing (and less chance of seas sickness!). From there, it was only a quick jump to its figurative use today, describing stability in people and situations.

Synonyms for Even-Keeled

If you’re looking to diversify your vocabulary, here are some synonyms you can use instead of even-keeled.

  • Balanced
  • Steady
  • Stable
  • Composed
  • Equable

Even-Keeled Examples in a Sentence

Even Keeled or Even Keel Usage Meaning

When we show how to use a word or phrase, it only helps us understand it better. So, here’s a list of sentences showing how you can apply this term to conversations and writing.

  • Despite the tension in the room, Jane remained impressively even-keeled and laser focused.
  • His even-keeled approach to problem-solving has earned him much respect.
  • My boss is known for her even-keeled leadership style, even in the most challenging situations.

Smooth Sailing Ahead

In the choppy seas of the English language, it helps to be even-keeled in understanding and using idioms. The term, with its roots firmly in nautical jargon, can be a powerful tool to describe balance and stability, whether in the context of people, situations or even projects. I hope you understand it a little better now!