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 But the street stalls do dovetail with a separate policy, launched last year, to develop China’s night-time economy. The Economist, "Back peddling China once banned street vendors. Now it welcomes them," 11 June 2020 Their findings dovetail with a stream of previous reports that have linked oxidation and insufficient sleep, in particular those of Everson, who grew interested in metabolism while in Rechtschaffen’s lab. Quanta Magazine, "Why Sleep Deprivation Kills," 4 June 2020 The rear can be drifted in the dovetail that secures it to the barrel to adjust windage. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "The Henry Garden Gun is a Handy .22-Caliber Smoothbore," 1 Apr. 2020 There is, however, an area in which the novel-coronavirus pandemic dovetails exceptionally well with part of Trump’s agenda and that of the Republican Party in some states: voter suppression. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "How the Coronavirus Pandemic Intensifies the Fight Over Voting Rights," 7 Apr. 2020 This rifle is drilled and tapped for Weaver-style bases instead of the not-as-solid dovetail mounts on many rimfires, and carries an externally adjustable trigger. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "The 10 Best Rifles for Squirrel Hunting," 11 Sep. 2019 Kreg Pocket Screw Jig There will be plenty of time later to learn how to cut complex woodworking joints like mortise and tenons and dovetails. Roy Berendsohn, Popular Mechanics, "18 Essential Tools For Your First Woodshop," 15 Oct. 2019 Apply a thin film of glue to the dovetails on the sides and ends of the tool box. Bradley Ford, Popular Mechanics, "How To Make an Heirloom Toolbox," 25 Feb. 2020 Typically, the tripod heads are grabbing on to either a segment of a Picatinny rail or an ARCA rail (a 1.5-inch dovetail) on the stock. John B. Snow, Outdoor Life, "Building the Ultimate Open-Country Hunting Rifle," 14 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Duplissea’s thirst for political gamesmanship seemed to dovetail with his appreciation for sports, which persisted throughout his life. Rachel Swan,, "Bill Duplissea, one of the Bay Area’s last Republican legislators, dies at 70," 4 July 2020 When futures contracts near expiration, prices generally dovetail with the price of a physical barrel of oil. Jacob Bogage,, "Stocks reel, with Dow losing 595 points, amid a historic collapse in oil prices," 20 Apr. 2020 The new proposals dovetail into Europe's previous stab at broad, universal data regulation, the General Data Protection Regulation, which the European Parliament agreed upon in 2016. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "EU’s new digital strategy targets data-hoarding tech firms," 20 Feb. 2020 The takeaway: The ad dovetails with Mr. Trump’s strategy of assuming no responsibility for the severity of the outbreak in the United States and pinning the blame on China. Nick Corasaniti, New York Times, "Our 2020 Election Guide," 12 May 2020 The grab-and-go and online presence dovetails with a Millennial population that has embraced the coffee culture and consumes 44% of all coffee nationally, according to a Bloomberg News report. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Scottsdale native’s Fourtillfour café in Old Town has Bay Area coffee flair," 30 Apr. 2020 This dovetails with a plethora of technological tools. Fox News, "China ups its spy game on US soil as it bids to control coronavirus narrative," 22 Apr. 2020 One of the biggest complaints of the Dallas Cowboys’ offseason so far dovetails perfectly with one of the biggest complaints about the team’s offseason last year. John Owning, Dallas News, "Film room: 3 pre-draft trade targets the Cowboys should consider, including a former first-round pick at CB," 27 Mar. 2020 Some elements of these involuntary fears and aversions are completely new; others dovetail readily with long-standing habits. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "Coronavirus Diary: Antisocial Distancing," 23 Mar. 2020

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

27 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dovetail.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Aug. 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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