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[shurt-teyl] /ˈʃɜrtˌteɪl/
the part of a shirt below the waistline.
Journalism. a brief item added at the end of a related newspaper story.
Compare follow-up (def 3b).
quite young and immature in behavior.
Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S. of distant relation, especially by marriage:
some shirttail cousins I'd never met.
verb (used with object)
Informal. to append or add (an item) to a discussion or writing:
The tariff concessions were shirttailed onto the trade bill.
Origin of shirttail
An Americanism dating back to 1835-45; shirt + tail1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for shirt-tail
Historical Examples
  • How ridiculous you are, with your big puffy face, and in your shirt-tail!

    A Chambermaid's Diary Octave Mirbeau
  • And the sexton ran out in the snow, in his shirt-tail, to see what was the matter.

    Seven O'Clock Stories Robert Gordon Anderson
  • He produced a piece of rock from a knot in his shirt-tail and handed it over to her slowly.

    Wunpost Dane Coolidge
  • He didn' hab on anything but his shirt an' he say he run so fas' 'til the wind had his shirt-tail stif as a board.

  • But the weeks passed, and the shirt-tail battalion was no nearer Cuba, though it was much nearer efficiency for the field.

    The Code of the Mountains Charles Neville Buck
  • If the men of the shirt-tail battalion had feared the dull routine of garrison duty, they were to be pleasantly disappointed.

    The Code of the Mountains Charles Neville Buck
  • The shirt-tail battalion and the bluegrass battalion stood in peril of decimation in their maiden engagement.

    The Code of the Mountains Charles Neville Buck
  • "Good deal like fighting a swarm of bees in your shirt-tail with a willow switch," old Bill panted at my shoulder.

  • I dug a quarter out of my pocket and polished it on my shirt-tail, getting the fingerprints off it.

    Little Brother

    Cory Doctorow
  • She is the brave woman who broke up, or rather burned up, the gambling den in shirt-tail Bend.

    Pen Pictures B. F. Craig
British Dictionary definitions for shirt-tail


the part of a shirt that extends below the waist
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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Slang definitions & phrases for shirt-tail



Impoverished; mean; paltry: My brother and I had a pretty shirttail existence as kids (1929+)


An editorial column: The boss blurbed the story in his shirttail (1944+ Newspaper office)

[both senses depend on the shirttail being a short appendage to a shirt; the first sense derives fr the shortness, hence meagerness; the second fr the appendedness, the editor's personal addition]

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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