Origin of tailgate

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



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

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



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