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horsetail

[hawrs-teyl]
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noun
  1. Also called scouring rush. any nonflowering plant of the genus Equisetum, having hollow, jointed stems.
  2. a horse's tail formerly used as a Turkish military standard or as an ensign of a pasha, the number of tails increasing with the rank.
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Origin of horsetail

First recorded in 1350–1400, horsetail is from the Middle English word horse tayle. See horse, tail1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for horsetail

horsetail

noun
  1. any tracheophyte plant of the genus Equisetum, having jointed stems with whorls of small dark toothlike leaves and producing spores within conelike structures at the tips of the stems: phylum Sphenophyta
  2. a stylized horse's tail formerly used as the emblem of a pasha, the number of tails increasing with rank
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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

Word Origin and History for horsetail

n.

c.1400, from horse (n.) + tail (n.). As a kind of plant, from 1530s.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

horsetail in Science

horsetail

[hôrstāl′]
  1. A member of a genus, Equisetum, of seedless vascular plants having a jointed hollow stem and narrow, sometimes much reduced leaves. Plants extremely similar to modern horsetails are known from fossils 300 million years old. The horsetails are the last surviving members of the phylum Sphenophyta, which dominated the forests of the Devonian and Carboniferous periods.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.