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


the Union and the Confederate accounts of the battle don't dovetail at all

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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 The norms promoted at Friday’s meeting dovetail with EU laws and rules used by organizations like the World Bank, which don’t always apply in counties where China has been active. James T. Areddy, WSJ, "European and Asian Nations Join U.S.’s Economic Pushback Against China," 19 Oct. 2018 The ending of your book dovetails with the arrival of social media. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Inside Marc Jacobs: Unseen, a Book of Backstage Photography by Robert Fairer, Who Shot the Designer’s Earliest Shows," 12 Sep. 2018 Storr argues that this uncompassionate edge of self-esteemery dovetails with the economic ideas of Ayn Rand and the competitive individualism of her followers in neoliberal politics. Anthony Gottlieb, New York Times, "How We Got to Be So Self-Absorbed: The Long Story," 21 June 2018 Using dovetails and other old-fashioned woodcuts, Sebastian Errazuriz makes furniture that seems fresh, new, and even a bit on this side of living and breathing. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Transforming Cabinets Move in Ways That Boggle the Mind," 22 June 2015 His adventures as an asylum-seeker dovetail with current headlines about U.S. immigration policies and international human rights issues. Christopher Arnott,, "A Mesmerizing 'Merchant Of Venice' As Arts & Ideas Hits Its Stride," 21 June 2018 The cabinets, painted a soft white cream, were built to last, with dovetail joinery and quality hardware. James Alexander,, "Property of the Week: 85 Memorial Drive, West Hartford," 27 July 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Shanahan appears less inclined to fight for robust counter-insurgent deployments and has taken a business-minded approach to the military that dovetails with the president’s. Missy Ryan, The Seattle Times, "White House action on Pentagon nomination to await conclusion of ethics probe," 12 Apr. 2019 Despite its recent growth in residential development, the area, with its rambling streets and historic buildings, retains a certain spookiness after hours that dovetails with de Vera's love of off-kilter antiquity. Nancy Hass, ELLE Decor, "The Perfect Setting," 6 Mar. 2012 That dovetails with the work of expert analytics departments. Rory Smith, New York Times, "When the World’s Greatest Soccer Players Gather, Scouts Stay Away," 5 July 2018 The group's aims, supposedly directed against extremism, dovetailed with the ideas of the country's growing far-right culture — a potent mix of nationalism, anti-Muslim prejudice and conspiracy theories that thrives online. Fox News, "A dream of uniting UK soccer fans swerves to the far right," 3 June 2018 The whole concept of Casa Sur reflects how trends in fashion, retail, and social media have dovetailed in 2018. Emily Farra, Vogue, "41 Brands, One Gorgeous Space: Casa Sur Brings Emerging Designers Across Fashion, Beauty, and Food to Bushwick," 28 Sep. 2018 The theme of Hatch’s speech dovetails with the goal of using a future library and think tank named after him in Utah to lead a movement toward bipartisanship and civility in politics. Brady Mccombs, The Seattle Times, "Hatch laments loss of civility for US Senate in ‘crisis’," 12 Dec. 2018 Netflix The last season of House of Cards dovetailed with the 2016 presidential election, which saw our dreams of the first-ever female president die. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "First Photos of Diane Lane and Greg Kinnear in 'House of Cards' Are Foreboding," 27 Aug. 2018 Out there on those long, empty stretches of seemingly lawless road, our country’s love affair with cars dovetailed perfectly with the machismo of the American West. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018

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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Statistics for dovetail

Last Updated

3 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dovetail

The first known use of dovetail was in 1573

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More Definitions for dovetail



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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More from Merriam-Webster on dovetail

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dovetail

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dovetail

Spanish Central: Translation of dovetail

Nglish: Translation of dovetail for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dovetail for Arabic Speakers

Comments on dovetail

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


highly pertinent or appropriate

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