swal·​low·​tail | \ ˈswä-lō-ˌtāl How to pronounce swallowtail (audio) , -lə- \

Definition of swallowtail

1 : a deeply forked and tapering tail (as of a swallow)
3 : any of various usually large brightly marked butterflies (family Papilionidae, especially genus Papilio) with each hind wing typically having an elongated process

Illustration of swallowtail

Illustration of swallowtail

swallowtail 3

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from swallowtail

swallow-tailed \ ˈswä-​lō-​ˌtāld How to pronounce swallow-tailed (audio) , -​lə-​ \ adjective

Examples of swallowtail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The main body of material in the 336-page book focuses on individual species, from swallowtails to silk moths. Sally Peterson, oregonlive, "Gardener gift idea: ‘Raising Butterflies’ book," 9 Dec. 2019 Queen, Gulf fritillary, black swallowtail, giant swallowtail, sulfur, red admiral, American beauty and other species of butterflies are flying right now in area landscapes. Calvin Finch, ExpressNews.com, "Fall blooms to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your San Antonio garden," 13 Sep. 2019 Painted ladies and swallowtail butterflies flitted about in the late afternoon sunshine, and a gentle, caressing breeze carried the blended fragrances of pine, cedar, sage and fresh oxygen. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Sit-and-see adventure at Santa Rosa Mountains," 7 Sep. 2019 At the crest of central Oregon’s 5,325-foot McKenzie Pass, a black-and-gold swallowtail butterfly landed on the handlebars of my bicycle before flitting to my open hand. Brian E. Clark, Los Angeles Times, "A little e-bike cheating makes Oregon Cascades bike tour a gem of a cycling trip," 24 Aug. 2019 The deck, now heat- and slip-resistant white porcelain tile instead of red brick, steps down from the back door and stretches toward an arbutus tree whose flowers and fruit attract hummingbirds and swallowtails. Emily Young, Los Angeles Times, "A tranquil garden getaway amid the hustle and bustle of Westwood," 3 Aug. 2019 The plant on the left is the nearly-identical Zizia aurea, also called golden Alexander — a native perennial and important plant food for the Missouri woodland swallowtail butterfly, according to the Missouri Botanical Garden. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "QUIZ: Can You Identify These Dangerous Summer Plants and Bugs?," 3 Aug. 2018 Schaus' swallowtails historically lived in tropical hardwood hammocks from Miami south into the Keys, but their population crashed as droughts desiccated their remaining habitat. Jennifer Kay, Fox News, "Researchers help rare butterfly take flight in Florida Keys," 27 July 2018 Be prepared: Dill is a food source for swallowtail caterpillars. Jo Ellen Meyers Sharp, Indianapolis Star, "The Hoosier Gardener: Easy-to-grow flavors for grilling," 19 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of swallowtail

1703, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about swallowtail

Time Traveler for swallowtail

Time Traveler

The first known use of swallowtail was in 1703

See more words from the same year

Statistics for swallowtail

Cite this Entry

“Swallowtail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swallowtail. Accessed 1 Oct. 2020.

Comments on swallowtail

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Challenging Vocabulary Quiz Returns!

  • stylized drawing of woman pole vaulting across gap to get trophy
  • Which is a synonym of fuliginous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!