Meaning of TAIL in English


I. ˈtāl, esp before pause or consonant -āəl noun

( -s )

Usage: often attributive

Etymology: Middle English, from Old English tægel, tægl; akin to Old High German zagal tail, Old Norse tagl horse's tail, Gothic tagl hair, Old Irish dūal lock of hair, and perhaps to Sanskrit daśā fringe of a garment, wick


a. : the part of the vertebrate body posterior to the portion containing the body cavity:

(1) : a rather slender more or less elongated process that arises from the trunk of many mammals immediately above the anus, contains the caudal vertebrae, and is often variously modified as a support, a balancer, or a grasping organ — see coccyx ; see cow illustration

(2) : the uropygium of a bird with its attached feathers ; sometimes : the feathers alone of this part

the peacock spreads his splendid tail

— see bird illustration

(3) : the caudal fin and caudal peduncle of a fish ; sometimes : caudal fin

(4) : the portion of the body of a limbless reptile behind the vent

b. : any of various backwardly directed and usually posterior processes on the body of an invertebrate animal

2. : something resembling an animal's tail in shape or position : a hindmost part or something that trails behind : a terminal appendage or rear end: as

a. : the luminous train of a comet

b. : a stroke or loop at the bottom of a letter (as g or y ) of the alphabet usually extending below the line

c. : one of the narrow prolongations of the hind wings of some butterflies and moths

d. : one of the slender stringy tips of some swollen roots (as of beets or turnips)

e. : a rudder or vane that turns a windmill to face the wind

f. : a braid of hair or a long switch or pigtail

her woolly hair was braided in sundry little tails — Harriet B. Stowe

3. : a train or company of attendants : retinue

4. tails plural

a. : tailcoat

b. : full evening dress for men

came downstairs resplendent in tails and white tie — Joseph Wechsberg

c. : the skirt, hem, or train of a gown or other long garment

his raincoat … kept slipping and he trod on its tail — John Buchan


a. : buttocks

sits on his tail at a desk — Frances & Richard Lockridge

b. slang : sexual intercourse — usually considered vulgar


a. : something that trails or follows in time or place : the back, last, lower, or inferior part of something : the part opposed to the head, superior part, front, or beginning : end , extremity , rear , conclusion

b. : the concluding part of a word, sentence, or discourse

at the tail of their conversation — Harriet Martineau

c. : a part that occurs or appears last

seemed to tire toward the tail of the evening

d. : the rear of a vehicle or of a traveling mechanism or implement

tumbled out at the tail of the cart — Roger Fry

in the private cabin in the tail of the ship — W.L.Worden

e. : the rear end of a procession (as a marching army)

f. : the reverse of a coin — see head or tail

g. : the part of a millrace downstream from the wheel : the downstream section of a pool or river

h. : the outermost or underwater part of a projecting bank or bar

i. : one end of a molecule regarded as opposite to the head — used especially of monomers as they are joined in polymers


a. : the residuum or refuse part left after a process (as milling, ore dressing, or distilling) : dregs, tailings

b. : the lowest grade of flour derived in milling from a final treatment of the impure stocks

8. : a sprout of barley


a. : the group standing hindmost in accomplishment, value, or skill (as in a political party, a society, a team, or in a herd or flock)

b. also tail end : the members of a cricket team who are not played primarily as batsmen and who go in to bat towards the end of the innings

10. : a horsetail formerly used in Turkey as a mark of rank

a pasha of two tails

11. : any of various parts of bodily structures that are terminal: as

a. : the distal tendon of a muscle

b. : the slender left end of the human pancreas

c. : the common convoluted tube that forms the lower part of the epididymis

12. : the stem of a written or printed musical note

13. : a police or other spy who follows or keeps watch on someone : detective , investigator , operative , shadow

his tail might be anything from a private dick to a G-man — Erle Stanley Gardner


a. : the exposed lower end of a slate, tile, or rafter

b. : tailing 4

15. nautical : a rope spliced around a block with long ends by which it may be lashed to something

16. : an augment (as the additional lines of a tailed sonnet) added to a recognized prosodic form — see tail rhyme

17. : tail fly


a. : the blank space below the printed part of a page or the corresponding part of the form from which the page is printed

b. : foot 9d

19. : jet VI 3

20. or tail unit or tail group : the rear part of an airplane consisting of horizontal and vertical stabilizing surfaces to which are attached movable surfaces for longitudinal and directional control : empennage

21. : the trail left by one who is going forward in or as if in flight

let the guy pass me to get him off my tail

had a posse on his tail

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

transitive verb

1. : to fasten by or at the tail, stern, or rear : connect end to end : string out

tailed weak words endlessly one to another

2. : to drag, grasp, or pull by the tail

tailed a badger that the dog had drawn out


a. : to remove the tail of (an animal) : dock

b. : to cut off the stringy ends of

top and tail the green beans — Dione Lucas


a. : to make or furnish with a tail

tailed a kite for his young son

b. : to follow or be drawn behind like a tail

tailed the champion to take second place

5. : to fasten an end of (a tile, brick, or timber) into a wall or other support

6. Australia : to act as herdsman of (sheep or cattle) : drive , herd

7. : to follow (someone) for purposes of surveillance : keep under observation : trail , watch

all the afternoon, the detectives tailed the two men — Joel Sayre

intransitive verb

1. : to ground stern first — used with aground

2. : to form or move in a straggling line : stretch out in a loose, irregular, or widely spaced column or file

with some hundred more tailing out in single file to join them — N.J.Berrill


a. : to diminish gradually : grow progressively smaller, fainter, or more scattered : approach an end : subside

her voice tailed off into hesitant silence

the airy rain had tailed away into the soft, moist blackness — Mervyn Wall

b. : to blend or merge gradually

a beach tailed out into the shallows — Nelson Hayes

4. : to break the surface of water with the tail while feeding on the bottom or in weeds

5. : to become built into a wall or other support so as to be held by the end — used of a timber, tile, or brick

6. : to swing or lie with the stern in a named direction — used of a ship at anchor

the ship tailed toward the shore

a liner tailed downriver

7. : to follow or mix closely with : tag

found it pleasanter to tail along with the crowd he knew

Synonyms: see follow

III. adjective

Etymology: Middle English taille, tayle, from Anglo-French taylé, from Old French taillié, past participle of taillier to cut, shape, fix, limit — more at tailor

: limited as to tenure : abridged, curtailed, entailed, reduced — compare estate tail , fee tail

IV. transitive verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

Etymology: Middle English taylen, taillen, from Anglo-French tayler, from Old French taillier to cut, shape, limit

: to limit or encumber with an entail : grant in tail

V. noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English tayle, taille, from Middle French taille, from Old French, from taillier

1. obsolete : tally 1a

2. : the state or condition of entailment : limitation , abridgment

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.