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noun Carpentry.
  1. a tenon broader at its end than at its base; pin.
  2. a joint formed of one or more such tenons fitting tightly within corresponding mortises.
verb (used with or without object)
  1. Carpentry. to join or fit together by means of a dovetail or dovetails.
  2. to join or fit together compactly or harmoniously.

Origin of dovetail

First recorded in 1555–65; so named from its shape
Related formsdove·tail·er, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for dovetail

Contemporary Examples of dovetail

Historical Examples of dovetail

British Dictionary definitions for dovetail


  1. a wedge-shaped tenon
  2. Also called: dovetail joint a joint containing such tenons
  1. (tr) to join by means of dovetails
  2. to fit or cause to fit together closely or neatlyhe 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

Word Origin and History for dovetail

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