from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun The posterior part of an animal, especially when elongated and extending beyond the trunk or main part of the body.
  • noun The bottom, rear, or hindmost part, especially.
  • noun The lowest part of a garment such as a shirt or coat.
  • noun The rear end of an automobile or other vehicle.
  • noun The rear portion of the fuselage of an aircraft or the assembly of stabilizing planes and control surfaces in this portion.
  • noun The vaned rear portion of a bomb or missile.
  • noun A long thin arrangement, part, or structure, often extending from a main structure.
  • noun A long thin part on some kites that hangs down below the part that catches the wind to provide stability.
  • noun The long stream of gas and dust that is illuminated and directed away from the head of a comet when it is close to the sun.
  • noun A braid of hair; a pigtail.
  • noun A train of followers; a retinue.
  • noun Something that follows something else or takes the last place.
  • noun The end of a line of persons or things.
  • noun The short closing line of certain stanzas of verse.
  • noun The refuse or dross remaining from processes such as distilling or milling.
  • noun A formal evening costume typically worn by men.
  • noun A tailcoat.
  • noun The side of a coin not having the principal design.
  • noun The trail of a person or animal in flight.
  • noun A person assigned or employed to follow and report on someone else's movements and actions.
  • noun Slang The buttocks.
  • noun Vulgar Slang Sexual intercourse.
  • noun Offensive Slang Women considered as sexual partners.
  • adjective Of or relating to a tail or tails.
  • adjective Situated in the tail, as of an airplane.
  • intransitive verb To provide with a tail.
  • intransitive verb To deprive of a tail; dock.
  • intransitive verb To serve as the tail or last part of.
  • intransitive verb To connect (often dissimilar or incongruous objects) by the tail or end.
  • intransitive verb To set one end of (a beam, board, or brick) into a wall.
  • intransitive verb Informal To follow and keep (a person) under surveillance.
  • intransitive verb To become lengthened or spaced when moving in a line.
  • intransitive verb To be inserted at one end into a wall, as a floor timber or beam.
  • intransitive verb Informal To follow.
  • intransitive verb To go aground with the stern foremost.
  • intransitive verb To lie or swing with the stern in a named direction, as when riding at anchor or on a mooring.
  • intransitive verb Sports To veer from a straight course in the direction of the dominant hand of the player propelling the ball.
  • idiom (with (one's) tail between (one's) legs) In a state of humiliation or dejection.
  • noun Limitation of the inheritance of an estate to a particular person and that person's heirs.
  • adjective Being in tail.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The end of the fiber that is combed last on a combing-machine.
  • noun The players on a side who are not counted on for runs, and who are consequently sent last to bat.
  • To cut or carve; carve out.
  • To mark on a tally; set down.
  • To cut off or limit as a settled possession; entail; encumber or limit, as by an entail.


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

[Middle English, from Old English tægel.]

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

[Middle English taille, from Old French, division, from taillier, to cut; see tailor.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English tail, tayl, teil, from Old English tæġel, tæġl ("tail"), from Proto-Germanic *taglaz, *taglan (“hair, fiber; hair of a tail”), from Proto-Indo-European *doḱ- (“hair of the tail”), from Proto-Indo-European *deḱ- (“to tear, fray, shred”). Cognate with Scots tail ("tail"), Dutch teil ("tail, haulm, blade"), Low German tagel ("a twisted scourge, a whip of thongs and ropes, a rope"), German Zagel ("tail"), Danish dialectal tavl ("hair of the tail"), Swedish tagel ("hair of the tail, horsehair"), Norwegian tagl ("tail"), Icelandic tagl ("tail, horsetail, ponytail"), Gothic 𐍄𐌰𐌲𐌻 (tagl). In some senses, apparently by a generalization of the usual opposition between head and tail.


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  • The Indian gave him to understand that he did trade horses, but as the mule had little or no tail, and the pony a long one, "_he wanted the sugar, tobacco, and flour to make up for the tail_!"

    Three Years on the Plains Observations of Indians, 1867-1870 Edmund B. Tuttle

  • These latter, of the celebrated Shanghae breed, were the finest specimens I have seen for a long time; and the most striking peculiarity about them was the preponderance of fat to their caudal extremities, the tail of each being of an entirely different formation from that of the European breed; and I can compare it to nothing better than an immense woolly mop, "in the place where the _tail_ ought to grow."

    Kathay: A Cruise in the China Seas W. Hastings Macaulay

  • The female Lophophorus has been living on nothing for at least a week; its voice is various, sometimes not unlike that of a large hawk, at others a cackle, or low chuckle; occasionally it runs forward, erecting its crest, and spreading out its tail like a fan, the _tail being_

    Journals of Travels in Assam, Burma, Bhootan, Afghanistan and the Neighbouring Countries William Griffith

  • _Dom Gianni, at the instance of his gossip Pietro, performeth a conjuration for the purpose of causing the latter's wife to become a mare; but, whenas he cometh to put on the tail, Pietro marreth the whole conjuration, saying that he will not have a tail_

    The Decameron of Giovanni Boccaccio Giovanni Boccaccio 1344

  • Its tail is short for a felines, taking less than half the length of the body.

    Animal Planet: Recognizing the Boundaries 2008

  • * The next step calls for widening the hide the tail is attached to.

    Cleaning Squirrels 2009

  • The scientist explains how lobsters use their antennae to communicate during mass migrations, how what we call the "tail" is actually the entire torso of the lobster and how claws have different purposes—one is a "pincer," the other a "crusher."

    Reconsidering the Lobster By Jasper White 2011

  • Our bodies twine, and the big black dog pushes his great head between; his tail is a metronome, 3/4 time.

    barbara crooker | in the middle « poetry dispatch & other notes from the underground 2007

  • But the tail is a sort of long extension of the stresses, so that when it goes, the whole thing goes - with a sort of "phack!" sound.

    Archive 2007-08-01 Heather McDougal 2007

  • But the tail is a sort of long extension of the stresses, so that when it goes, the whole thing goes - with a sort of "phack!" sound.

    The Allure of Hot Glass Heather McDougal 2007


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  • In bookbinding, the lower margin of a leaf, cover, or endpaper.

    February 22, 2007

  • “The goal is to convert as much as 2 percent or 3 percent of spending from “tail” to “tooth” — military slang for support services and combat forces.”

    The New York Times, Gates Takes Aim at Pentagon Spending, by Thom Shanker, May 8, 2010

    May 9, 2010