swal·​low·​tail | \ ˈswä-lō-ˌtāl , -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 , -​lə-​ \ adjective

Examples of swallowtail in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

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 Luckily that doesn’t seem to bother the beautiful anise swallowtail, which uses the plant as its larval host (and lots of other plants in the carrot family). Molly Marquand, Good Housekeeping, "8 Weeds You Should Actually Let Grow In Your Yard," 28 July 2016 Butterflies by the scores — swallowtails and cloudless sulphurs, mostly — crowded around the muddy edges of a depression holding remains of a recent rare shower, sucking up crucial moisture. Shannon Tompkins, Houston Chronicle, "For hunters, South Texas colors a feast for the senses," 3 May 2018 Various swallowtail and heliconid butterflies are some of roughly 30 species that will be on display. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "From humble pupae to brilliant butterflies comes Butterfly Jungle," 9 Mar. 2018 Wealthy diners in swallowtail coats feasted on small songbirds soaked in Armagnac, flambéed, and then eaten whole. Brenda Wineapple, New Republic, "Grand Illusions," 21 Dec. 2017 Perhaps the same is true for other butterflies like morphos and pipevine swallowtails, which have independently evolved blue iridescence. Ed Yong, The Atlantic, "Scientists Can Now Repaint Butterfly Wings," 18 Sep. 2017

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

The first known use of swallowtail was in 1703

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