any tall, reedlike marsh plant of the genus Typha, especially T. latifolia, having long, sword-shaped leaves and dense, cylindrical clusters of minute brown flowers.

Origin of cattail

First recorded in 1425–75, cattail is from the late Middle English word cattestail. See cat, tail1
Also called bulrush, reed mace. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cat-tail

Historical Examples of cat-tail

  • Were going to make all the cats in Cat-tail Marsh pay an indemnity.

  • What a pity that the world could not have the benefit of one of the pictures that West painted with his cat-tail brush.

    The Diving Bell

    Francis C. Woodworth

  • Yet the seeds, say, of the cat-tail flag always find the wet or the marshy places.

    The Last Harvest

    John Burroughs

  • But one nest was all they could find—a ball of grasses fastened between two cat-tail flags.

    Citizen Bird

    Mabel Osgood Wright and Elliott Coues

  • Nest a ball of woven flags and grasses, lined with cat-tail down, and attached to rushes in salt marsh over two feet of water.

    The Bird Book

    Chester A. Reed

British Dictionary definitions for cat-tail



noun Canadian

another word for bulrush
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 cat-tail



also cat's tail, type of plant, mid-15c., from cat (n.) + tail (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper