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tail·​gate ˈtāl-ˌgāt How to pronounce tailgate (audio)
: a board or gate at the rear of a vehicle that can be removed or let down (as for loading)
[from the custom of seating trombonists at the rear of trucks carrying jazz bands in parades] : a jazz trombone style marked by much use of slides to and from long sustained tones
US : tailgate party
Nowadays, tailgates have evolved into mobile feasts: face-to-face social networks where complete strangers bond over food and drink, and everyone is eager to share.Greg Ferro


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tailgated; tailgating

intransitive verb

: to drive dangerously close behind another vehicle
US : to have a tailgate party

transitive verb

: to drive dangerously close behind
tailgater noun


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: relating to or being a tailgate party

Example Sentences

Verb He hit the car in front of him because he was tailgating. They started tailgating at 10 o'clock.
Recent Examples on the Web
It’s getting lit and eating crawfish at a tailgate in Louisiana. Blake Toppmeyer, USA TODAY, 7 July 2022 Among the former Tech players spotted at the tailgate included Tariq Owens and Norense Odiase from Beard’s 2019 runner-up team. Dallas News, 1 Feb. 2022 The last in-person homebrewers’ tailgate was in March 2020, just before the COVID-19 pandemic started. Stefene Russell, The Salt Lake Tribune, 16 Sep. 2022 This is now less like a rip-roaring tailgate and more like the lobby of a mechanic’s shop after several warning lights on your dashboard went off. Dan Wiederer, Chicago Tribune, 18 Nov. 2022 Open the Sierra's Midgate to unlock nine feet of space for extra-long items (that length increases to 11 feet with the tailgate down). Eric Stafford, Car and Driver, 20 Oct. 2022 Also, the truck's back bumper is, annoyingly, nearly flush with the tailgate. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, 31 Oct. 2021 One tailgate family was championing its bacon-wrap hot dogs. Eric Sondheimer Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 1 Oct. 2021 Out back, the ZR2 can be optioned — on Silverado LT and up — with the Multi-Flex tailgate that first appeared on ‘21 models. Dallas News, 18 Sep. 2021
Let impatient drivers pass, do not tailgate the person that just cut you off and do not allow other drivers to get under your skin. Dallas News, 20 Jan. 2022 As part of its Safe Road Trains for the Environment project, known as SARTRE, automakers are designing vehicle systems that would let cars safely tailgate on designated highways in a trainlike procession led by a professional driver. David Freedman, Discover Magazine, 22 May 2011 On Location has official Super Bowl tickets that are guaranteed by the NFL, which are included as part of packages options like open bars, tailgate food and pre-game parties. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, 17 Nov. 2022 And the games also give basketball fans across the state a rare chance to tailgate in an expansive parking lot. Ben Steele, Journal Sentinel, 25 July 2022 Sports fans who tailgate are more likely to get drunk. Ncbi Rofl, Discover Magazine, 7 Feb. 2012 On Location has official Super Bowl tickets that are guaranteed by the NFL, which are included as part of packages options like open bars, tailgate food and pre-game parties. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, 17 Nov. 2022 The Harry Potter fan who loves to tailgate needs this Igloo cooler. Jamie Kravitz, Woman's Day, 4 Nov. 2022 On Location has official Super Bowl tickets that are guaranteed by the NFL, which are included as part of packages options like open bars, tailgate food and pre-game parties. Ed Masley, The Arizona Republic, 17 Nov. 2022
The Super Bowl has long been one of Fieri's favorite events of the year, and the celebrity chef has hosted tailgate parties of a much smaller size before to celebrate his love for football and food. Endia Fontanez, The Arizona Republic, 26 Jan. 2023 And the area, which some truck owners use to hold ice and beverages for tailgate parties at football games, has a plug to allow quick drainage for easy cleaning. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, 18 Jan. 2023 In one story, a former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader told The Times what they were told to do with unruly fans at tailgate parties or in luxury suites. Dallas News, 18 Feb. 2022 Aaron May, who curates the culinary lineups, works with local nonprofits to donate food from a series of these tailgate events, which run throughout the season and culminate in the Super Bowl party. Stephanie Breijo, Los Angeles Times, 16 Feb. 2022 Just look at these tailgate outfits below for proof. Jazmin Gathers, Glamour, 18 Oct. 2022 While Tuscaloosa boasts its share of famous barbecue joints and a tailgate scene envied by many, T-Town also has its share of delicious pizzerias, many of which have remained opened for several decades in the community. Ben Flanagan | Bflanagan@al.com, al, 3 Oct. 2022 New food offerings available at the tailgate start with the debut of sports-minded restaurant American Social, which has popular locations in downtown Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Ben Crandell, Sun Sentinel, 9 Sep. 2022 Keep your tailgate crowd busy with Ohio State Buckeyes 2-foot by 4-foot Solid Wood Cornhole Boards ($219.99. Paris Wolfe, cleveland, 5 Aug. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


1854, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1949, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1962, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of tailgate was in 1854

Dictionary Entries Near tailgate

Cite this Entry

“Tailgate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tailgate. Accessed 1 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tail·​gate ˈtā(ə)l-ˌgāt How to pronounce tailgate (audio)
: a panel at the back end of a vehicle (as a station wagon) that can be let down for loading and unloading


2 of 2 verb
tailgated; tailgating
: to drive dangerously close behind another vehicle

More from Merriam-Webster on tailgate

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