Run away, as in When they heard the sirens, the boys turned tail. This term alludes to an animal's turning its back in flight. [Mid-1500s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
How to use turn tail in a sentence
Left without guidance a pony tends to edge more or less away from the wind, in order to turn tail to the weather.Blazed Trail Stories | Stewart Edward White
Far more would they have been pleased to see the animals turn tail, and make away from them.The Vee-Boers | Mayne Reid
It means he is going to turn tail, as I always thought he would,—the cursed cowardly traitor!The Rangers | D. P. Thompson
We'll not turn tail and run as the lobster backs did; but go out of here like men, if so be we may.The Minute Boys of Boston | James Otis
Theyll turn tail, and run a little way off after the crash of the gun inside here and seeing their mate keel over.The Outdoor Chums in the Big Woods | Quincy Allen