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[duhv-teyl] /ˈdʌvˌteɪl/
noun, Carpentry.
a tenon broader at its end than at its base; pin.
a joint formed of one or more such tenons fitting tightly within corresponding mortises.
verb (used with or without object)
Carpentry. to join or fit together by means of a dovetail or dovetails.
to join or fit together compactly or harmoniously.
Origin of dovetail
First recorded in 1555-65; so named from its shape
Related forms
dovetailer, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for dovetailing
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For sawing the joint reference may be made to the chapter on dovetailing.

    Woodwork Joints William Fairham
  • The application of this bearer in its position will be shown in the chapter on dovetailing.

    Woodwork Joints William Fairham
  • They are capable of aiding the process of dovetailing one seasonal trade into another.

    Liberalism and the Social Problem Winston Spencer Churchill
  • As to the manner of the dovetailing, it will be readily recalled to recollection.

  • Observe that there is no coincidence in the matter, no interlinking or dovetailing of chances.

    Play-Making William Archer
  • The dovetailing of play and music is at best a perilous proceeding.

    Ivory Apes and Peacocks James Huneker
  • It was, too, of oak some inches thick, and fitted upon the chest by a kind of dovetailing at the edges.

    After London Richard Jefferies
  • With our present light, he holds, geological history seems to be a dovetailing together of the two ideas.

  • This is a species of dovetailing the life and opinions of Junius into those of Mr. Paine.

    Junius Unmasked Joel Moody
British Dictionary definitions for dovetailing


a wedge-shaped tenon
Also called dovetail joint. a joint containing such tenons
(transitive) to join by means of dovetails
to fit or cause to fit together closely or neatly: he dovetailed his arguments to the desired conclusion
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for dovetailing


late 16c. (n.), 1650s (v.), from dove (n.) + tail. So called from resemblance of shape in the tenon or mortise of the joints to that of the bird’s tailfeather display. Related: Dovetailed.

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



To say something linked and sequential: Let me dovetail on what you just said (1970s+ Army)

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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