Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • intransitive v. To go as fast as possible, especially in fleeing: hightailed out of town.
  • idiom hightail it To hurry or flee.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To retreat quickly.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. leave as fast as possible

Etymologies

From those animals that raise their tails when fleeing.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Refers to behavior of fleeing animals, such as deer, that raise their tail when running away. (Wiktionary)

Examples

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Comments

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  • Cf. nip and tuck.

    December 27, 2009

  • And a bonus: thanks to John, I'm adding "hightail it home" to my Mom list. :-)

    October 30, 2007

  • Yes, that's true! The other animal that was used as an example in whatever the hell it was I was reading about the white-tailed deer, was a mourning dove. They have white streaks on their tail feathers, which, when the birds are startled, spread to make the white highly visible.

    October 30, 2007

  • That's also a sign of danger in the bird world. Birdwatchers are warned not to wear white in the field so as not to scare away all the good birds.

    October 30, 2007

  • Interestingly, about white-tail deer anyways, it is thought that they evolved white undersides on their tails to function as a warning flag to other deer.

    If you're a deer, and you see that white tail, you know the other deer is fleeing something and you ought to consider doing the same. Something like that.

    I always thought that was a pretty cool evolutionary tool.

    It reminds me of that Gary Larson cartoon of a deer with a target on its chest: "Bummer of a birthmark, Hal."

    October 30, 2007

  • Slang for running away quickly. I presume it comes from the fact that deer hold their tails straight up when they bolt.

    October 29, 2007