the hindmost part of an animal, especially that forming a distinct, flexible appendage to the back end of its body.
something resembling or suggesting this in shape or position: the tail of a kite.
Astronomy. the luminous stream extending from the head of a comet.
the reverse of a coin (opposed to head).
Aeronautics. the after portion of an airplane or the like.
Slang. the buttocks or rump.
Informal. a person who trails or keeps a close surveillance of another, as a detective or spy: The police decided to put a tail on the suspect.
Informal. the area directly behind a person in motion; the wake or trail of a person: They put a detective on his tail.The car behind me was riding my tail far too closely.
Usually Disparaging and Offensive. a woman considered as a sex object.
the hinder, bottom, or end part of anything; the rear.
the inferior or unwanted part of anything.
a long braid or tress of hair.
an arrangement of objects or persons extending as or as if a tail.
a line of persons awaiting their turns at something; queue.
a retinue; train.
the lower part of a pool or stream.
the exposed portion of a piece of roofing, as a slate.
Printing, Bookbinding. the bottom of a page or book.
Printing. the lower portion of a type, as of g, y, or Q.
coming from behind: a tail breeze.
being in the back or rear: the tail section of a plane.
Informal. to follow in order to hinder escape of or to observe: to tail a suspect.
to form or furnish with a tail.
to form or constitute the tail or end of (a procession, retinue, etc.).
to terminate; come after or behind; follow like a tail.
to join or attach (one thing) at the tail or end of another.
Building Trades. to fasten (a beam, stone, etc.) by one end (usually followed by in or into).
to dock the tail of (a horse, dog, etc.).
to follow close behind: She always tails after her sister.
to disappear gradually or merge into: The path tails off into the woods.
to form, or move or pass in, a line or column suggestive of a tail: The hikers tailed up the narrow path.
(of a boat) to have or take a position with the stern in a particular direction.
Building Trades. (of a beam, stone, etc.) to be fastened by one end (usually followed by in or into).
Idioms about tail
to turn one's back on, as in aversion or fright.
to run away from difficulty, opposition, etc.; flee: The sight of superior forces made the attackers turn tail.
with one's tail between one's legs, utterly humiliated; in defeat; dejectedly: They were forced to retreat with their tails between their legs.
- tailer, noun
- tailless, adjective
- tail·less·ly, adverb
- tail·less·ness, noun
- taillike, adjective
- tail , tale
Other definitions for tail (2 of 2)
the limitation of an estate to a person and the person’s heirs or some particular class of such heirs.
limited to a specified line of heirs; entailed.
- tailless, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use tail in a sentence
The US was at the tail end of what should have been a severe flu season in 2020, but when the pandemic was declared there was a precipitous drop in cases.The COVID-19 pandemic is about to collide with flu season. Here’s what to expect. | Sara Chodosh | August 26, 2020 | Popular-Science
What you see here, never seen before, is the first stage of the process that gives comets their tails.These Images Expose the Dark Side of the Solar System - Issue 89: The Dark Side | Corey S. Powell | August 26, 2020 | Nautilus
The thieves could’ve stolen them, but clearly the effort seemed too much, since it was a fat bike and a road bike and they were nose to tail.
Long-tail keywords may not necessarily attract the same traffic as the general keywords, but they can lead to better business prospects since the search intent is more specific.Three SEO mistakes that can impact your search rankings | Tereza Litsa | August 24, 2020 | Search Engine Watch
In fact, the two tails of escapees possess more stars than does the cluster.Milky Way’s tidal forces are shredding a nearby star cluster | Ken Croswell | August 18, 2020 | Science News For Students
The young man had the presence of mind to tail Gaylard Williams out of the park and jot down his license plate.Exposed: The Gay-Bashing Pastor’s Same-Sex Assault | M.L. Nestel | December 21, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
But two things are clear in this tail-eater of a case: First, there seems to be plenty of guilt but hardly a criminal in sight.Wrongly Imprisoned for 15 Years Thanks to an Innocence Project | Jacob Siegel | November 13, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
We thought that Sonny was inspiring us and he was out there and responding and sweating and playing his tail off.
A spokeswoman adds that, in the baked flesh, it looks more like a lobster tail.
When it comes to food, are you an adventurous, nose-to-tail kind of eater?
The dog stood with hanging head and tail, as if ashamed he had let so many of his enemies get away unharmed.The Courier of the Ozarks | Byron A. Dunn
The Arab pricked his ears, swished his long and arched tail viciously, and showed the whites of his eyes.The Red Year | Louis Tracy
It was no worm that Mrs. Robin had found, but Grandfather Mole's hairless tail sticking out of the ground.The Tale of Grandfather Mole | Arthur Scott Bailey
And there shall be no work for Egypt, to make head or tail, him that bendeth down, or that holdeth back.The Bible, Douay-Rheims Version | Various
That was not the exact word that he used, but he expressed it by beating his tail against the table and giving a long howl.The Soldier of the Valley | Nelson Lloyd
British Dictionary definitions for tail (1 of 2)
the region of the vertebrate body that is posterior to or above the anus and contains an elongation of the vertebral column, esp forming a flexible movable appendage: Related adjective: caudal
anything resembling such an appendage in form or position; the bottom, lowest, or rear part: the tail of a shirt
the last part or parts: the tail of the storm
the rear part of an aircraft including the fin, tailplane, and control surfaces; empennage
astronomy the luminous stream of gas and dust particles, up to 200 million kilometres long, driven from the head of a comet, when close to the sun, under the effect of the solar wind and light pressure
the rear portion of a bomb, rocket, missile, etc, usually fitted with guiding or stabilizing vanes
a line of people or things
a long braid or tress of hair: a ponytail; a pigtail
Also called: tailfly angling the lowest fly on a wet-fly cast
a final short line in a stanza
informal a person employed to follow and spy upon another or others
an informal word for buttocks: See buttock
the female genitals
a woman considered sexually (esp in the phrases piece of tail, bit of tail)
the margin at the foot of a page
the bottom edge of a book
the lower end of a pool or part of a stream
informal the course or track of a fleeing person or animal: the police are on my tail
(modifier) coming from or situated in the rear: a tail wind
turn tail to run away; escape
with one's tail between one's legs in a state of utter defeat or confusion
to form or cause to form the tail
to remove the tail of (an animal); dock
(tr) to remove the stalk of: to top and tail the gooseberries
(tr) to connect (objects, ideas, etc) together by or as if by the tail
(tr) informal to follow stealthily
(tr) Australian to tend (cattle) on foot
(intr) (of a vessel) to assume a specified position, as when at a mooring
to build the end of (a brick, joist, etc) into a wall or (of a brick, etc) to have one end built into a wall
- tailless, adjective
- taillessly, adverb
- taillessness, noun
- tail-like, adjective
British Dictionary definitions for tail (2 of 2)
the limitation of an estate or interest to a person and the heirs of his body: See also entail
(immediately postpositive) (of an estate or interest) limited in this way
- tailless, adjective
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
Scientific definitions for tail
The rear, elongated part of many animals, extending beyond the trunk or main part of the body. Tails are used variously for balance, combat, communication, mating displays, fat storage, propulsion and course correction in water, and course correction in air.
A long, stream of gas or dust forced from the head of a comet when it is close to the Sun. Tails can be up to 150 million km (93 million miles) long, and they always point away from the Sun because of the force of the solar wind.♦ Plasma tails, or ion tails, appear bluish and straight and narrow, and are formed when solar wind forces ionized gas to stream off the coma. Dust tails are wide and curved, and are formed when solar heat forces trails of dust off the coma; solid particles reflecting the Sun's light create their bright yellow color.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Other Idioms and Phrases with tail
In addition to the idioms beginning with tail
- tail between one's legs, with one's
- tail end
- tail off
- tail wagging the dog, the
- bright-eyed and bushy-tailed
- can't make head or tail of
- get off one's tail
- heads or tails
- in two shakes (of a lamb's tail)
- on someone's coattails
- tiger by the tail
- turn tail
- work one's fingers to the bone (tail off)
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.