Intermediate+ Word of the Day: haul

haul (verb, noun) /hɔl/ LISTEN

Haul me up!

To haul means ‘to pull something hard’ or ‘drag it with force’ or to ‘carry or transport something.’ It also means ‘to take someone somewhere forcibly,’ particularly to court. As a noun, a haul is the action of dragging something, the load of something dragged at one time, and also the distance over which things are transported. Something taken or acquired, often illegally, is also called a haul.

Example sentences

  • The sailor hauled the rope to pull the anchor up.
  • Olivia hauled her suitcase through the airport.
  • Peter drives a truck and hauls freight over long distances.
  • The police arrested the thief and hauled her before a judge.
  • The fisherman gave a great haul on the net and pulled it aboard.
  • The woodcutter arrived at the cottage with his haul of logs.
  • The truck driver was glad to get to the end of her day's haul.
  • The burglar was pleased with his haul of jewelry.

Words often used with haul

haul off (US): to leave. Example: “The thieves hauled off in a hurry when the owner came back unexpectedly.”

long haul, short haul: either a long or short distance over which goods or passengers are transported. These expressions can also refer to a short or long time. Example: “The politician argued that the tax cut would benefit the economy over the long haul.”

haul over the coals: reprimand severely. Example: “Teresa messed up that project and the boss really hauled her over the coals.”

In pop culture

You can listen to singer-songwriter Mark Knopfler’s song “Haul Away,” and read the lyrics, here:

Did you know?

The related noun haulage is the transport of goods by road and a person or company that does such work is a hauler, in US English, or a haulier, in UK English.

Don't confuse it with

Don’t confuse haul with howl. They look similar but are pronounced differently and have very different meanings. A howl is a long cry, like the one a wolf makes, and to howl is to make that kind of noise.


Haul dates back to the late 16th century. The verb, meaning ‘to pull or draw by force’ is actually an alternate spelling of an earlier verb, hale, (also spelled hall or hawl), which dates back to around the year 1200, meant ‘to pull or draw,’ and was originally halen in Middle English. The spelling favored haul or hawl by the early 17th century, and was fixed to haul in the late 17th century. It comes from the Old French haler (to pull, tow or tug), but is originally from a Germanic source, possibly the Frankish halon or the Old Dutch halen. It can be traced back to the Proto-Germanic verb halon (to call) and the Proto-Indo-European root kele- (to shout). It is distantly related to the English word claim. The noun comes from the verb. Meaning ‘the act of pulling,’ it dates back to the mid-17th century. The meaning ‘something gained’ is from the late 18th century, originally a figurative use based on the notion of the amount of fish pulled up in a net.

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