Definitions

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

  • noun A fan-shaped tenon that forms a tight interlocking joint when fitted into a corresponding mortise.
  • noun A joint formed by interlocking one or more such tenons and mortises.
  • intransitive verb To cut into or join by means of dovetails.
  • intransitive verb To connect or combine precisely or harmoniously.
  • intransitive verb To be joined together by means of dovetails.
  • intransitive verb To combine or interlock into a unified whole.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In carpentry, a tenon cut in the form of a dove's tail spread, or of a reversed wedge; a manner of fastening boards or timbers together by letting tenons so cut on one into corresponding cavities or mortises in another.
  • noun plural Two irons, one with a flange, the other with a recess, cut to a taper: used to hold carriage-doors in position.
  • To unite by tenons in the form of a pigeon's tail spread let into corresponding mortises in a board or timber: as, to dovetail the angles of a box.
  • Figuratively, to unite closely, as if by dovetails; fit or adjust exactly and firmly; adapt, as one institution to another, so that they work together smoothly and harmoniously.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (Carp.) A flaring tenon, or tongue (shaped like a bird's tail spread), and a mortise, or socket, into which it fits tightly, making an interlocking joint between two pieces which resists pulling a part in all directions except one.
  • noun (Arch.) a molding of any convex section arranged in a sort of zigzag, like a series of dovetails.
  • noun (Carp.) a saw used in dovetailing.
  • transitive verb To cut to a dovetail.
  • transitive verb To join by means of dovetails.
  • transitive verb To fit in or connect strongly, skillfully, or nicely; to fit ingeniously or complexly.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun woodworking A type of joint where adjoining boards are fastened by interlocking fan-shaped cutouts.
  • verb woodworking To unite with a dovetail joint.
  • verb To fit together well.

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

  • noun a mortise joint formed by interlocking tenons and mortises
  • verb fit together tightly, as if by means of a dovetail

Etymologies

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

dove +‎ tail

Examples

  • A thru single dovetail_, Fig. 267, is similar to a slip-joint except that instead of a tenon there is a dovetail.

    Handwork in Wood

  • First, check the drawers to make sure they contain dovetail joints, which complement the natural strength of the wood.

    SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles - Part 1017

  • I agree with John the dovetail is a perfect joint the way it works is genius, (when done right) I either need someone to coach me on a different way to get a good dovetail (everytime) or change.

    Mandolin Cafe News

  • I agree with John the dovetail is a perfect joint the way it works is genius, (when done right) I either need someone to coach me on a different way to get a good dovetail (everytime) or change.

    Mandolin Cafe News

  • I agree with John the dovetail is a perfect joint the way it works is genius, (when done right) I either need someone to coach me on a different way to get a good dovetail (everytime) or change.

    Mandolin Cafe News

  • I agree with John the dovetail is a perfect joint the way it works is genius, (when done right) I either need someone to coach me on a different way to get a good dovetail (everytime) or change.

    Mandolin Cafe News

  • All quality dressers should be made out of wood-on-wood joints such as dovetail and doweling joints.

    The Evolution Dresser by Ferruccio Laviani

  • They all kind of dovetail and make up a story that's bizarre but ...

    CNN Transcript Jul 3, 2009

  • Heals has lovely wool and mohair "dovetail" rugs in two-tone pinks (4,450 pounds; heals. co.uk).

    Style: The Bachelorette Pad

  • And just to kind of dovetail on what Renee was talking about a little bit about the Stockholm syndrome -- I was a hostage negotiator for 22 years, and this is, you know, something we talk about now and then and just kick it around.

    CNN Transcript Jan 12, 2007

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