(of a vehicle) to lean, sway, or tip to one side while in motion:
The car careened around the corner.
(of a ship) to heel over or list.
career (def 7).
South Midland U.S. to lean or bend away from the vertical position:
The barn was careening a little.
to cause (a ship) to lie over on a side, as for repairs or cleaning; heave down.
to clean or repair (a ship lying on its side for the purpose).
to cause (a ship) to heel over or list, as by the force of a beam wind.
a careening.
Nautical. the position of a careened ship.
Contemporary Examples

We have a movement full of people who love their country and who are terrified of the course that it continues to careen along.
What are the Implications of DeMint’s Exit? David Frum December 6, 2012

Historical Examples

She continued to careen in the position of a cab going round Piccadilly Circus on one wheel.
As Seen By Me Lilian Bell

Of a sudden the wind lulled, and the Circassian righted from her careen.
The Pirate and The Three Cutters Frederick Marryat

When we have your report, we can arrange to careen the ship, but not before.
Roger the Bold F. S. Brereton

We will careen the ship for a day or so, so as to let the carpenter and his mates get at the leak.
Jones of the 64th F. S. (Frederick Sadleir) Brereton

On the 1st September, the three largest ships being careened, they began to careen the rest.
A General History and Collection of Voyages and Travels, Volume X Robert Kerr

Afterwards I helped to careen the Ships, to refit them, and to calk them.
The Travels and Adventures of James Massey Simon Tyssot de Patot

The curtain went up, and “The Purple Slipper” glided on the stage with never a creak or a careen.
Blue-grass and Broadway Maria Thompson Daviess

It can’t be more than a week or ten days’ job, even if we careen her.
The Mystery Stewart Edward White and Samuel Hopkins Adams

They proceeded at once to careen their ships at the Pearl islands in the bay of Panama.
The Monarchs of the Main, Volume II (of 3) Walter Thornbury

to sway or cause to sway dangerously over to one side
(transitive) (nautical) to cause (a vessel) to keel over to one side, esp in order to clean or repair its bottom
(intransitive) (nautical) (of a vessel) to keel over to one side

1590s, “to turn a ship on its side” (with the keel exposed), from French cariner, literally “to expose a ship’s keel,” from Middle French carene “keel” (16c.), from Italian (Genoese dialect) carena, from Latin carina “keel of a ship,” originally “nutshell,” possibly from PIE root *kar- “hard” (see hard (adj.)).

Intransitive sense of “to lean, to tilt” is from 1763, specifically of ships; in general use by 1883. In sense “to rush headlong,” confused with career (v.) since at least 1923. [To career is to move rapidly; to careen is to lurch from side to side (often while moving rapidly).] Earlier figurative uses of careen were “to be laid up; to rest.” Related: Careened; careening.


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  • Career limiting move

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