• synonyms


or rat·tail

  1. grenadier(def 4).
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Origin of rat-tail

First recorded in 1695–1705
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for rat-tail

Historical Examples of rat-tail

  • The rat-tail, which extended down the back of the bowl, was shortened into a drop.

    Home Life in Colonial Days

    Alice Morse Earle

  • It looks like a rat-tail file, but smokes better, some think.

    What Is Man? And Other Stories

    Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)

  • It was laconic, but it sounded like a rat-tail file on steel.

  • We found the cargo to consist of 5,000 rat-tail files, of different sizes and descriptions.

  • Every fifth man carried a number of rat-tail files, which were to be driven into the vents of the cannon, and then broken off.

British Dictionary definitions for rat-tail


  1. another name for grenadier (def. 2)
    1. a horse's tail that has no hairs
    2. a horse having such a tail
  2. a style of spoon in which the line of the handle is prolonged in a tapering moulding along the back of the bowl
  3. a kind of woodworking or metalworking file
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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 rat-tail


also rat's-tail, used since 16c. of conditions or devices he;d to resemble a rat's long, hairless tail in some sense, including "lank lock of hair" (1810); "end of a rope" (1867); from rat (n.) + tail (n.).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper