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Heel vs. Heal: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Janet White || Published on January 27, 2024
"Heel" refers to the back part of the foot below the ankle, or the lower back part of a shoe, while "heal" means to become healthy again or cause to become healthy.

Key Differences

Heel is a specific physical part of the body or an element of footwear, often associated with support or balance. Heal, however, is a process or action of recovery, typically from an injury or illness.
The word "heel" is often used in contexts related to anatomy, footwear, or even behavior (as in 'to heel' in dog training). "Heal" is predominantly used in medical, emotional, or spiritual contexts, implying restoration or recovery.
Heel serves primarily as a noun, though it can also be a verb in specific contexts (like commanding a dog). Heal is primarily a verb, indicating the action of recovery or making something better.
"Heel" appears in idioms like "take to one's heels" (meaning to run away), while "heal" is used in expressions like "time heals all wounds," emphasizing the restorative aspect of time.
Heel might be associated with stability, posture, or direction, as in following at someone's heels. Heal carries associations of care, improvement, and the passage of time leading to betterment.

Comparison Chart

Part of Speech

Noun (primarily), Verb (secondarily)


Refers to a body part or part of a shoe
Means to make or become healthy or whole


Anatomy, Footwear, Behavior
Medicine, Recovery, Emotional Healing

Idiomatic Usage

"Achilles' heel," "Take to one's heels"
"Heal the world," "Time heals all wounds"

Symbolic Meaning

Stability, Direction
Recovery, Improvement

Heel and Heal Definitions


The back part of the foot below the ankle.
She injured her heel during the marathon.


To become sound or healthy again.
Her wound began to heal after treatment.


The last or end part of something.
He read the book from cover to heel.


To make healthy, whole, or sound.
The doctor helped heal his injuries.


A contemptible person.
The villain in the story was a real heel.


To restore to health.
Time can heal emotional scars.


The lower back part of a shoe or boot.
The heels of his shoes were worn out from walking.


To mend or repair.
She was able to heal the rift in their friendship.


To follow closely.
The dog learned to heel during walks.


To free from ailment.
The medicine helped to heal her illness.


The rounded posterior portion of the human foot under and behind the ankle.


To restore to health or soundness; cure
Healed the sick patient.


The corresponding part of the hind foot of other vertebrates.


To ease or relieve (emotional distress)
Only time can heal her grief.


What does "heel" refer to in anatomy?

It's the back part of the foot below the ankle.

Can "heel" be used as a verb?

Yes, in commands like "heel" to a dog.

What's an "Achilles' heel"?

It's a metaphor for a weakness or vulnerable point.

What does "heal" mean in medicine?

It means to recover health or become whole again.

What is "heeling" in sailing?

It refers to a boat leaning over in the water.

What does "time heals all wounds" imply?

It suggests that over time, emotional pain lessens.

Is "heal" always related to physical injuries?

No, it can also refer to emotional or spiritual recovery.

Does "heal" imply a quick process?

No, healing can often be a gradual process.

Can "heal" be used in a spiritual context?

Yes, it's often used in the context of spiritual healing.

How does heel pain commonly occur?

It can occur from injuries, overuse, or conditions like plantar fasciitis.

Can emotions "heal" over time?

Yes, emotional wounds can heal with time and care.

Are there different types of heels in shoes?

Yes, such as high heels, stiletto heels, and block heels.

What does "self-healing" mean?

It refers to the process of recovery without external aid.

Does "heel" have negative connotations?

Sometimes, as in calling someone a "heel" meaning a bad person.

Can "heel" imply following someone closely?

Yes, as in "to heel" meaning to follow closely.

What role does nutrition play in healing?

Good nutrition can significantly aid in the healing process.

Is "heal" used in both physical and mental contexts?

Yes, it applies to both physical and mental recovery.

What's a "heel turn" in wrestling?

It's when a wrestler switches from being a good guy to a bad guy.

How do doctors help heal injuries?

Through treatments, medicine, and therapy.

Is "heel" related to balance?

Yes, particularly in the context of shoes and posture.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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