tail wagging the dog, the

A small or unimportant factor or element governing an important one; a reversal of the proper roles. For example, She found herself explaining the new therapy to her doctor—a real case of the tail wagging the dog. [c. 1900]


Nearby words

  1. tail off,
  2. tail out,
  3. tail plane,
  4. tail rotor,
  5. tail skid,
  6. tail wheel,
  7. tail-heavy,
  8. tail-light,
  9. tailback,
  10. tailband

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.