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)
2 : tailcoat
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

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Other Words from swallowtail

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

Examples of swallowtail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Its flavors seem airborne, flitting around your mouth like a swallowtail and touching down on your palate just long enough to tantalize you into wanting another sip. Washington Post, 30 July 2021 Unlike the giant swallowtail, the gulf fritillary hatches a large number of caterpillars on its egg-laying site, and those caterpillars will often strip it of foliage during the breeding season. Calvin Finch, San Antonio Express-News, 4 June 2021 In due course, a floor manager in a swallowtail coat and striped trousers appeared. David Marchese, New York Times, 2 May 2021 There are a handful of specialized shapes, including a swallowtail in the Weston line, that our testers prefer on road-closing powder days. Drew Zieff, Popular Mechanics, 7 Dec. 2020 Late summer brought a squadron of swallowtail butterflies that seemed to prefer feeding on the leathery leaves of ceanothus while nearby the busy skipper butterflies focused on clusters of wildflowers closer to the ground. San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Nov. 2020 The main body of material in the 336-page book focuses on individual species, from swallowtails to silk moths. Sally Peterson, oregonlive, 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, 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, 7 Sep. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of swallowtail

1703, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for swallowtail

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The first known use of swallowtail was in 1703

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Dictionary Entries Near swallowtail

swallow shrike


swallow-tailed duck

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Cite this Entry

“Swallowtail.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/swallowtail. Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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