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tail fin

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noun
  1. caudal fin.
  2. Automotive. See under fin1(def 7).
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Origin of tail fin

First recorded in 1675–85

fin1

[fin]
noun
  1. a membranous, winglike or paddlelike organ attached to any of various parts of the body of fishes and certain other aquatic animals, used for propulsion, steering, or balancing.
  2. Nautical.
    1. a horizontal, often adjustable, winglike appendage to the underwater portion of a hull, as one for controlling the dive of a submarine or for damping the roll of a surface vessel.
    2. fin keel.
  3. Also called vertical stabilizer. Aeronautics. any of certain small, subsidiary structures on an aircraft, designed to increase directional stability.
  4. any of a number of standing ridges on an ordinarily hot object, as a radiator, a cylinder of an internal-combustion engine, etc., intended to maximize heat transfer to the surrounding air by exposing a large surface area.
  5. any part, as of a mechanism, resembling a fin.
  6. Metallurgy. a ridge of metal squeezed through the opening between two rolls, dies, or halves of a mold in which a piece is being formed under pressure.Compare flash(def 11).
  7. Automotive. an ornamental structure resembling an aeronautical fin that is attached to the body of an automobile, as on each rear fender (tail fin).
  8. Slang. the arm or hand.
  9. Usually fins. flipper(def 2).
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verb (used with object), finned, fin·ning.
  1. to cut off the fins from (a fish); carve or cut up, as a chub.
  2. to provide or equip with a fin or fins.
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verb (used without object), finned, fin·ning.
  1. to move the fins; lash the water with the fins, as a whale when dying.
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Origin of fin1

before 1000; Middle English, Old English finn; cognate with Dutch vin, Low German finne; akin to Swedish fena
Related formsfin·less, adjectivefin·like, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tail fin

Historical Examples

  • She is said to have a hand as large as the tail-fin of a whale, and if she strikes you with it there is an end of you.

    Eskimo Life

    Fridtjof Nansen

  • The tail-fin, which is deepest at mid-length, extends to the back of the head and is flecked with brown.

  • The tail shortens and finally disappears in the frogs and toads; with the salamanders the tail-fin only is lost.

  • In small larvae the outer edge of the tail-fin is dark brown.

  • The direction of this flattening is from side to side, and therefore the tail-fin must have been vertical, like that of a fish.

    Extinct Monsters

    H. N. Hutchinson


British Dictionary definitions for tail fin

Fin

abbreviation for
  1. Finland
  2. Finnish
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FIN

abbreviation for
  1. Finland (international car registration)
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fin1

noun
  1. any of the firm appendages that are the organs of locomotion and balance in fishes and some other aquatic animals. Most fishes have paired and unpaired fins, the former corresponding to the limbs of higher vertebrates
  2. a part or appendage that resembles a fin
    1. Britisha vertical surface to which the rudder is attached, usually placed at the rear of an aeroplane to give stability about the vertical axisUS name: vertical stabilizer
    2. a tail surface fixed to a rocket or missile to give stability
  3. nautical a fixed or adjustable blade projecting under water from the hull of a vessel to give it stability or control
  4. a projecting rib to dissipate heat from the surface of an engine cylinder, motor casing, or radiator
  5. (often plural) another name for flipper (def. 2)
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verb fins, finning or finned
  1. (tr) to provide with fins
  2. (tr) to remove the fins from (a dead fish)
  3. (intr) (esp of a whale) to agitate the fins violently in the water
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Derived Formsfinless, adjective

Word Origin

Old English finn; related to Middle Dutch vinne, Old Swedish fina, Latin pinna wing

fin2

noun
  1. US slang a five-dollar bill
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Word Origin

from Yiddish finf five, ultimately from Old High German funf, finf
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 tail fin

fin

n.

Old English finn, from Proto-Germanic *finno (cf. Middle Low German vinne, Dutch vin), perhaps from Latin pinna "feather, wing" (see pin (n.)); or, less likely, from Latin spina "thorn, spine" (see spike (n.1)).

U.S. underworld slang sense of "$5 bill" is 1925, from Yiddish finif "five," from German fünf (see five) and thus unrelated. The same word had been used in England 1868 to mean "five pound note" (earlier finnip, 1839).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tail fin in Science

fin

[fĭn]
  1. One of the winglike or paddlelike parts of a fish, dolphin, or whale that are used for propelling, steering, and balancing in water.
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The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.