Meaning of TAIL in English
I. tail 1 S2 W3 /teɪl/ BrE AmE noun [countable]
[ Language: Old English ; Origin: tægel ]
1 . ANIMAL the part that sticks out at the back of an animal’s body, and that it can move:
The dog wagged its tail.
a white-tailed eagle
AIRCRAFT the back part of an aircraft
3 . SHIRT the bottom part of your shirt at the back, that you put inside your trousers
4 . BACK PART [usually singular] the back or last part of something, especially something that is moving away from you:
We saw the tail of the procession disappearing round the corner.
5 . tails
a) [plural] a man’s jacket which is short at the front and divides into two long pieces at the back, worn to very formal events SYN tailcoat
b) [uncountable] spoken said when you are ↑ toss ing a coin (=throwing it up in the air to decide which of two things you will do or choose) OPP heads
6 . the tail end of something the last part of an event, situation, or period of time
7 . be on sb’s tail informal to be following someone closely
8 . FOLLOW informal someone who is employed to watch and follow someone, especially a criminal
put a tail on somebody (=order someone to follow another person)
9 . turn tail informal to run away because you are too frightened to fight or attack
10 . with your tail between your legs embarrassed or unhappy because you have failed or been defeated
11 . it’s (a case of) the tail wagging the dog informal used to say that an unimportant thing is wrongly controlling a situation
12 . chase tail American English informal to try to get a woman to have sex with you
• • •
Some dinosaurs had long necks and equally long tails.
Its tail is short and pointed.
▪ bushy (=with long thick fur)
My cat has a soft bushy tail.
▪ a prehensile tail technical (=able to hold things)
Many monkeys have prehensile tails.
▪ a dog wags its tail/its tail wags
Domino rushed to meet her, tail wagging with excitement.
▪ a cow/cat etc swishes its tail (=quickly moves it from side to side)
The cow wandered off, swishing her tail.
■ tail + NOUN
▪ tail feathers
The bird’s wings and tail feathers were a beautiful purple color.
■ COMMON ERRORS
► Do not say ' wave its tail ' or ' shake its tail '. Say wag its tail .
II. tail 2 BrE AmE verb [transitive]
informal to follow someone and watch what they do, where they go etc:
The police have been tailing him for several months.
tail away phrasal verb British English
to ↑ tail off
tail back phrasal verb
British English if traffic tails back, a long line of cars forms, for example because the road is blocked
tail off ( also tail away British English ) phrasal verb
1 . to become gradually less, smaller etc, and often stop or disappear completely:
Profits tailed off towards the end of the year.
2 . written if someone’s voice tails off, it becomes quieter and then stops:
‘I didn’t mean ...’ Her voice tailed off in embarrassment.
• • •
▪ follow to walk, drive etc behind or after someone, for example in order to see where they are going:
The man had followed her home to find out where she lived.
Follow that car!
He hired a detective to follow her.
▪ chase to quickly run or drive after someone or something in order to catch them when they are trying to escape:
Police chased the car along the motorway at speeds of up to 90 mph.
▪ run after somebody/go after somebody to quickly follow someone or something in order to stop them or talk to them:
I ran after him to say sorry, but he’d already got on the bus.
▪ stalk /stɔːk $ stɒːk/ to secretly follow an animal in order to kill it, or to secretly follow a person in order to attack them:
a tiger stalking its prey
He had a long history of stalking women in his neighbourhood.
▪ pursue /pəˈsjuː $ pərˈsuː/ written to chase someone in a very determined way:
The ship was being pursued by enemy submarines.
▪ give chase written to chase someone or something who is trying to escape from you:
One of the officers gave chase and arrested the man.
The calf ran away and the lion gave chase.
▪ tail to secretly follow someone in order to watch what they do and where they go:
Apparently, the police had been tailing the terrorists for months.
▪ track to follow and find a person or animal by looking at the marks they leave on the ground:
The bushmen were tracking antelope in the Kalahari desert.
Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English. Longman - Словарь современного английского языка. 2012