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[teyl-spin] /ˈteɪlˌspɪn/
noun, Also, tail spin
spin (def 23).
a sudden and helpless collapse into failure, confusion, or the like.
verb (used without object), tailspinned, tailspinning.
to take or experience a sudden and dramatic downturn:
After the mill closes, the local economy may tailspin.
Origin of tailspin
First recorded in 1910-15; tail1 + spin Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for tailspin
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As she stepped inside this gigantic barrel her mind went into a tailspin.

    Hour of Enchantment Roy J. Snell
  • Yes, he had all but gone into a tailspin, and that with his motor thundering at its best.

    Riddle of the Storm Roy J. Snell
  • Instantly the heavy plane went into a tailspin and plunged earthward.

    Riddle of the Storm Roy J. Snell
  • She side-slipped, her nose dipped down, an she went into a tailspin.

    Famous Flyers David Goodger (
  • A warning from the observation towersomebody was in tailspin.

    Famous Flyers David Goodger (
British Dictionary definitions for tailspin


(aeronautics) another name for spin (sense 16)
(informal) a state of confusion or panic
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 tailspin

"downward spiraling dive of an aircraft," 1916, from tail (n.1) + spin (n.). Figurative sense of "state of loss of control" is from 1928.

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


Related Terms

in a tailspin

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 tailspin


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