- the tail of a swallow or a deeply forked tail like that of a swallow.
- any of several butterflies of the genus Papilio, characterized by elongated hind wings that resemble the tail of a swallow, as P. polyxenes (black swallowtail).Compare spicebush swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, zebra swallowtail.
- tail coat.
Origin of swallowtail
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for swallowtail
Old Swallowtail reached the stone-yard and climbed the fence.Mary Louise in the Country
L. Frank Baum (AKA Edith Van Dyne)
The Red Star line followed in 1821, and soon after the Swallowtail line.Fifth Avenue
Arthur Bartlett Maurice
To the left at one tip of the crescent the flash of Swallowtail Light glowed and died like the fire in a gigantic cigarette.
Once Swallowtail was passed the voyage had begun, and the lead belonged to any one who could take it.
I aint in a swallowtail coat, but every one knows me, and they know that Ive been up in the roof tryin to stop a leak.Droll Stories of Isthmian Life
- any of various butterflies of the genus Papilio and related genera, esp P. machaon of Europe, having a tail-like extension of each hind wing: family Papilionidae
- the forked tail of a swallow or similar bird
- short for swallow-tailed coat
Word Origin and History for swallowtail
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper