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See more synonyms for tailspin on Thesaurus.com
noun Also tail spin.
  1. spin(def 23).
  2. a sudden and helpless collapse into failure, confusion, or the like.
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verb (used without object), tail·spinned, tail·spin·ning.
  1. to take or experience a sudden and dramatic downturn: After the mill closes, the local economy may tailspin.
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Origin of tailspin

First recorded in 1910–15; tail1 + spin
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for tailspin

slide, plunge, slope, declivity, tumble, grade, sag, header, slip, settlement, decline, droop, gradient, swoop, declension, inclination, sinking, crash, slant, coast

Examples from the Web for tailspin

Contemporary Examples of tailspin

Historical Examples of tailspin

  • As she stepped inside this gigantic barrel her mind went into a tailspin.

  • Yes, he had all but gone into a tailspin, and that with his motor thundering at its best.

  • Instantly the heavy plane went into a tailspin and plunged earthward.

  • She side-slipped, her nose dipped down, an she went into a tailspin.

    Famous Flyers

    David Goodger (goodger@python.org)

  • A warning from the observation towersomebody was in tailspin.

    Famous Flyers

    David Goodger (goodger@python.org)

British Dictionary definitions for tailspin


  1. aeronautics another name for spin (def. 16)
  2. informal a state of confusion or panic
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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 tailspin


"downward spiraling dive of an aircraft," 1916, from tail (n.1) + spin (n.). Figurative sense of "state of loss of control" is from 1928.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with tailspin


see go into a tailspin.

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