See more synonyms for tailgate on Thesaurus.com
  1. the board or gate at the back of a wagon, truck, station wagon, etc., which can be removed or let down for convenience in loading or unloading.
verb (used without object), tail·gat·ed, tail·gat·ing.
  1. to follow or drive hazardously close to the rear of another vehicle.
verb (used with object), tail·gat·ed, tail·gat·ing.
  1. to follow or drive hazardously close to the rear of (another vehicle).
  1. pertaining to or set up on a tailgate: a tailgate picnic before the football game.

Origin of tailgate

An Americanism dating back to 1850–55; tail1 + gate1


noun Jazz.
  1. a style of playing the trombone, especially in Dixieland jazz, distinguished especially by the use of melodic counterpoint and long glissandi.

Origin of tailgate

First recorded in 1945–50; so called from the usual seat of trombonists in trucks carrying musicians during a parade
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tailgate

Contemporary Examples of tailgate

Historical Examples of tailgate

  • The hounds were snapping furiously as they tried to leap over the tailgate.


    Mike Lewis

  • On the tailgate was spread, three times a day, the jolly good meals that pioneer mothers knew how to cook.

    Strange Stories of the Great Valley

    Abbie Johnston Grosvenor

  • There was a tailgate lowered, forming a ramp; above it, the huge double doors opened on a cavern of blackness.


    Poul William Anderson

British Dictionary definitions for tailgate


  1. another name for tailboard
  2. a door at the rear of a hatchback vehicle
  1. to drive very close behind (a vehicle)
Derived Formstailgater, noun
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 tailgate

1868, back panel on a wagon, hinged to swing down and open, from tail (n.) + gate (n.). Extended by 1950 to hatchback door on an automobile. The verb meaning "to drive too close behind another vehicle" is from 1951; tailgate party "party or picnic at the open tail-gate of a parked car" is attested from 1961.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper