dove·​tail | \ ˈdəv-ˌtāl How to pronounce dovetail (audio) \

Definition of dovetail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something resembling a dove's tail especially : a flaring tenon and a mortise into which it fits tightly making an interlocking joint between two pieces (as of wood)


dovetailed; dovetailing; dovetails

Definition of dovetail (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to join by means of dovetails
b : to cut to a dovetail
2a : to fit skillfully to form a whole
b : to fit together with

intransitive verb

: to fit together into a whole

Illustration of dovetail

Illustration of dovetail


dovetail: 1 mortises, 2 tenons, 3 joint

In the meaning defined above

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Examples of dovetail in a Sentence

Verb the Union and the Confederate accounts of the battle don't dovetail at all
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The Vertix also has a dovetail mount on the riser to accommodate QAD’s new UltraRest MXT—a system that could send Berger bolts the way of the single cam. Will Brantley, Outdoor Life, "The 9 Best New Compound Hunting Bows, Tested and Ranked," 17 June 2019 Frost said her work on tau dovetails with movement in the Alzheimer’s field toward that protein and away from amyloid, after recent failures in major clinical trials of drugs targeting amyloid plaques. Lauren Caruba,, "San Antonio researchers recognized for advances in Alzheimer’s, wound care," 5 Dec. 2019 The kitchen still has original counters made of old-growth Douglas fir and peach cabinetry with dovetail drawers and glass knobs. oregonlive, "Historic Southeast Portland gem of a house sparkles with holiday decorations," 4 Dec. 2019 How does this dovetail with Adam Silver's softer approach to dealing with players? -- Stuart. Ira Winderman,, "ASK IRA: Is the over/under 0 for Waiters’ Heat appearances this season?," 11 Nov. 2019 The Malabar House’s reputation as Fort Kochi’s leading art hotel dovetails with the enclave’s emergence as one of India’s artistic hotbeds, thanks in part to the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, now South Asia’s largest art show. Alexandra Kirkman, Fortune, "Why You Should Visit Southern India on Your Next Vacation," 22 June 2019 That the present and past dovetail so harmoniously illustrates one of Saban’s most defining characteristics: Consistency. Rainer Sabin |,, "The genius of Alabama coach Nick Saban found in YouTube classic videos," 5 June 2019 His decision to eliminate bleach dovetails with J Brand’s own commitment to more sustainable practices. Emily Farra, Vogue, "Kozaburo Akasaka, Last Year’s LVMH Special Prize Winner, Is Launching His First-Ever Women’s Jeans," 21 Mar. 2019 This method of collecting dovetails nicely with Rennell’s work, which involves creating and curating clothing and home goods for her online shop, Beklina. Marley Marius, Vogue, "No Corners or Closets: What It’s Like to Live in a California “Spaceship House”," 27 Aug. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The two have dovetailed exceptionally well (so too, to be fair, did DeBoer and Michael Penix before Penix's injury), and Indiana is here as a result. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "Scouting report: What to expect from IU football at 2020 Gator Bowl," 31 Dec. 2019 O’Brien’s effectiveness has dovetailed well with the president’s focus and priorities, but that isn’t the sole reason for his being selected. Hugh Hewitt, Twin Cities, "Hugh Hewitt: Trump chose exactly the national security adviser he and the country need," 20 Sep. 2019 Order and chaos dovetail beautifully as everyday life is given its due — and then some. David Pagel, Los Angeles Times, "Why the Snapchat exhibition at LACMA looks cool but ultimately rings hollow," 14 Sep. 2019 Five decades had dovetailed toward Sunday night for St. Louis, its franchise-long championship drought set to be quenched by champagne. Alex Prewitt,, "Bruins’ Core Steps Up to Counterpunch Blues, Take Stanley Cup Final the Distance," 10 June 2019 That program will dovetail with the latest initiative, enabling Democrats to fill some organizing roles. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Democratic National Committee targets Wisconsin, 5 other states for ramped-up 2020 ground game," 22 Jan. 2020 The inquiry, the first of its kind at the state level, dovetails with an ongoing federal probe into whether such affiliations, notably with Chinese entities, pose a risk to the U.S. research enterprise. Jeffrey Mervis, Science | AAAS, "Florida joins U.S. government in probing foreign ties of researchers," 9 Jan. 2020 The experience dovetailed nicely with his longstanding interest in the arc of human thought over the course of history, and his background as both a physicist and a biotech entrepreneur. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "“Loonshots” and phase transitions are the key to innovation, physicist argues," 29 Dec. 2019 This then dovetails into your finances and estate planning needs. Nathan Bachrach And Amy Wagner,, "Simply Money: Retirement planning must-dos for 'solo agers'," 18 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dovetail.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dovetail


1573, in the meaning defined above


circa 1656, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for dovetail

Time Traveler

The first known use of dovetail was in 1573

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Statistics for dovetail

Last Updated

23 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dovetail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for dovetail


How to pronounce dovetail (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dovetail

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a type of joint that is used to connect two pieces of wood together



English Language Learners Definition of dovetail (Entry 2 of 2)

: to join (two pieces of wood) with dovetail joints
formal : to fit together in a pleasing or satisfying way

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