Origin of tailgate

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

Definition for tailgate (2 of 2)


[ teyl-geyt ]
/ ˈteɪlˌgeɪt /

noun Jazz.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for tailgate

British Dictionary definitions for tailgate


/ (ˈteɪlˌɡeɪt) /


another name for tailboard
a door at the rear of a hatchback vehicle


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