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[koht-teyl] /ˈkoʊtˌteɪl/
the back of the skirt on a man's coat or jacket.
one of the two back parts of the skirt of a coat, especially one of the tails on a tail coat.
gained by association with another, especially with a successful or celebrated person:
coattail benefits.
on someone's coattails, aided by association with another person:
The senator rode into office on the president's coattails.
on the coattails of, immediately after or as a result of:
His decline in popularity followed on the coattails of the scandal.
Origin of coattail
First recorded in 1590-1600; coat + tail1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for coattails
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Anyhow, Denboro won't hang onto his coattails to hold him back.

    The Rise of Roscoe Paine Joseph C. Lincoln
  • A marriage,—yes; but Frank has only just got into coattails!

    My Novel, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • He came towards them at an amble, scratching actively behind his coattails.

    Ulysses James Joyce
  • All I ask is a block's start an' some wan holdin' th' polisman's coattails.

    Mr. Dooley Says Finley Dunne
  • Morris ran to the store door and grabbed Hymie by the coattails.

    Potash & Perlmutter Montague Glass
Word Origin and History for coattails

also coat-tail, c.1600, from coat (n.) + tail (n.). In 17c., to do something on one's own coattail meant "at one's own expense. Meaning "power of one person," especially in politics, is from 1848 (in a Congressional speech by Abraham Lincoln, in reference to Andrew Jackson); expression riding (someone's) coattails into political office is from 1949.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for coattails



Based on another person's achievement or quality; derivative: But the Sephardim are not likely to remain contented with coattail power for long


To keep the same musical tempo: You're still keeping the same time. We called it coattailing (1950s+ Musicians)

Related Terms

on someone's coattails

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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Idioms and Phrases with coattails


The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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