See more synonyms for fishtail on
verb (used without object)
  1. to swerve or skid from side to side, as the rear end of a car.
  2. to slow an airplane by causing its tail to move rapidly from side to side.
  1. such a maneuver.
  2. a gas burner having two jets crossing each other so as to produce a flame resembling a fish's tail.
  3. a device having a long, narrow slot at the top, placed over a gas jet, as of a Bunsen burner, to give a thin, fanlike flame.
  4. Jewelry. a setting consisting of four prominent triangular corner prongs to hold the stone.

Origin of fishtail

1400–50; late Middle English. See fish, tail1 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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Historical Examples of fishtail

British Dictionary definitions for fishtail


  1. an aeroplane manoeuvre in which the tail is moved from side to side to reduce speed
  2. a nozzle having a long narrow slot at the top, placed over a Bunsen burner to produce a thin fanlike flame
verb (intr)
  1. to slow an aeroplane by moving the tail from side to side
  2. to drive with the rear of the vehicle moving from side to side in an uncontrolled fashion
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 fishtail

1840, from fish (n.) + tail (n.). As a verb, 1927, originally of aircraft, later automobiles. Related: Fishtailed; fishtailing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper