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noun \ˈtāl\

Definition of tail

  1. 1 :  the rear end or a process or prolongation of the rear end of the body of an animal

  2. 2 :  something resembling an animal's tail in shape or position: asa :  a luminous stream of particles, gases, or ions extending from a comet especially in the antisolar directionb :  the rear part of an airplane consisting usually of horizontal and vertical stabilizing surfaces with attached control surfaces

  3. 3 :  retinue

  4. 4 plural a :  tailcoatb :  full evening dress for men

  5. 5a :  buttocks, buttb usually vulgar :  sexual intercourse

  6. 6 :  the back, last, lower, or inferior part of something

  7. 7 :  tailing 1 —usually used in plural

  8. 8 :  the reverse of a coin —usually used in plural <tails, I win>

  9. 9 :  one (as a detective) who follows or keeps watch on someone

  10. 10 :  the blank space at the bottom of a page

  11. 11 :  a location immediately or not far behind <had a posse on his tail>

tailed play \ˈtāld\ adjective
tail·less play \ˈtāl-ləs\ adjective
tail·like play \-ˌlīk\ adjective

Origin of tail

Middle English, from Old English tægel; akin to Old High German zagal tail, Middle Irish dúal lock of hair

First Known Use: before 12th century

Other Zoology Terms




Simple Definition of tail

  • : to follow (someone) closely

  • : to move in a line that is not straight

Full Definition of tail

  • transitive verb
    1. 1 :  to connect end to end

    2. 2a :  to remove the tail of (an animal) :  dockb :  to remove the stem or bottom part of <topping and tailing gooseberries>

    3. 3a :  to make or furnish with a tailb :  to follow or be drawn behind like a tail

    4. 4 :  to follow for purposes of surveillance

    5. intransitive verb
    6. 1 :  to form or move in a straggling line

    7. 2 :  to grow progressively smaller, fainter, or more scattered :  abate —usually used with off <productivity is tailing off — Tom Nicholson>

    8. 3 :  to swing or lie with the stern in a named direction —used of a ship at anchor

    9. 4 :  2tag

    tail·er noun

    Examples of tail

    1. The police had been tailing the suspect for several miles.

    2. She is constantly tailed by the press.

    3. The pitch tailed away from the batter.


    First Known Use of tail





    Definition of tail

    1. :  entail 1a

    Origin of tail

    Middle English, from Anglo-French, from tailler

    First Known Use: 14th century




    Definition of tail

    1. :  limited as to tenure :  entailed

    Origin of tail

    Middle English taille, from Anglo-French taylé, past participle of tailler to cut, limit — more at tailor

    First Known Use: 15th century

    Medical Dictionary


    noun \ˈtā(ə)l\

    Medical Definition of tail

    1. 1:  the rear end or a process or prolongation of the rear end of the body of an animal

    2. 2:  one end of a molecule regarded as opposite to the head; especially :  the end of a lipid molecule that consists of a nonpolar hydrocarbon chain and is opposite to the polar group <most surface-active agents have a long hydrophobic tail attached to a polar head—R. E. Kirk & D. F. Othmer>

    3. 3:  any of various parts of bodily structures that are terminal: asa:  the distal tendon of a muscleb:  the slender left end of the human pancreasc:  the common convoluted tube that forms the lower part of the epididymis

    4. 4:  the motile part of a sperm that extends from the middle piece to the end and comprises the flagellum

    5. 5:  a thin protein tube which forms part of the coat of some bacteriophages and through which DNA is injected into a cell

    6. tailed \ˈtā(ə)ld\play adjective
      tail·less \ˈtā(ə)l-les\play adjective

    Illustration of tail

    Seen and Heard

    What made you want to look up tail? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


    February 7, 2016

    a slight offense

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