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


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)



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • 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