tail·​gate | \ ˈtāl-ˌgāt \

Definition of tailgate

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : a board or gate at the rear of a vehicle that can be removed or let down (as for loading)
2 [ 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
3 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


tailgated; tailgating

Definition of tailgate (Entry 2 of 3)

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to drive dangerously close behind



Definition of tailgate (Entry 3 of 3)

: relating to or being a tailgate party

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Other Words from tailgate


tailgater noun

Examples of tailgate in a Sentence


He hit the car in front of him because he was tailgating. They started tailgating at 10 o'clock.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

It can be popped up to act as a load stop when the tailgate is down. Gary Gastelu, Fox News, "The 2019 GMC Sierra is the first pickup with a carbon fiber bed," 1 Mar. 2018 Set out this not-too-spicy guacamole for parties, tailgates, snack time, and more. 1. Anna Helm Baxter, Country Living, "Pepita Guacamole," 5 Nov. 2018 The fire supposedly started from sparks coming from a vehicle dragging a tailgate, the Navajo County Sheriff's Office said. Kimberly Rapanut, azcentral, "377 brush fire in Navajo County mostly contained, evacuations lifted," 7 June 2018 The inner portion can also flip up as a load stop when the tailgate is lowered. Dan Neil, WSJ, "A Luxury Truck Showdown: Ram 1500 vs. GMC Sierra," 11 Oct. 2018 But that swing-open tailgate is an odd choice for a car that's otherwise optimized for tight squeezes. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "Review: Ford crosses over into the mini-SUV segment with tiny EcoSport," 19 Sep. 2018 Getty ImagesJulian Parker There are even pictures of Diana floating around the internet that show the late princess walking around in a purple Northwestern sweatshirt and white shorts, looking ready for a game day tailgate. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Princess Diana and Meghan Markle Both Spent Time at Northwesten University in Chicago," 8 Sep. 2018 Read more: To improve light-weighting and fuel efficiency, the new Ram includes strategic use of aluminum, including for the tailgate, which can be dropped using an interior switch or remotely with the key fob or passive entry. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "2019 Ram 1500 has 12-inch touchscreen, hybrid technology," 15 Jan. 2018 The video shows Rodriguez turn to lean his back on the tailgate, and Vick suddenly grabs Rodriguez by the left arm and shoves him against the pickup. Guillermo Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "The Texas DPS is sharing lists of traffic citations with federal immigration authorities," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

About 2006, a small group met on a Chesney cruise to the Bahamas and decided to start tailgating together at his Dallas shows. Emily Yahr, chicagotribune.com, "Country music's sobering truths," 30 June 2018 From tailgating to back-to-school, see some of what has caught my eye, all of which is colorful, customizable, and totally free. Michelle Profis, Country Living, "Paperless Post's (Free!) Fall Invites," 12 Sep. 2013 The exuberant undergraduate wearing a Nike cap and giving out samples is as common on U.S. campuses as football fans tailgating at homecoming. Claire Ballentine, The Seattle Times, "The hot college gig: online brand promoter," 1 Sep. 2018 One of the biggest trends in RVing is using a motorhome or trailer for tailgating at your kids practices and games. Fox News, "Big adventures in a smaller RV," 22 Aug. 2018 Bills fans are such a force in Jacksonville Sunday that Jaguars fans are taking lessons on tailgating from them. Khadrice Rollins, SI.com, "Watch: Bills Mafia Takes Over Jacksonville For Buffalo's First Playoff Game Since 2000," 7 Jan. 2018 And falling temperatures also could affect the throngs tailgating before the game and driving home after it. Anthony R. Wood, Philly.com, "Eagles-Falcons weather forecast: Frigid temperatures in Philly for playoff game," 12 Jan. 2018 Nothing is better for tailgating, sitting around the campfire or your next fishing or hunting excursion. Sarah Sekula, Fox News, "16 Father's Day gifts for the rad dad who loves the outdoors," 7 June 2018 Like so many Central Florida teenagers, Zach Berman grew up a Gator fan, attending plenty of football and basketball games in Gainesville and tailgating at an annual homecoming party that draws big-name talent like Snoop Dogg. Annie Martin, OrlandoSentinel.com, "High school grads flood Florida colleges with applications," 28 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The Sierra’s tailgate-forward marketing only proves how competitive this segment is. Dan Neil, WSJ, "A Luxury Truck Showdown: Ram 1500 vs. GMC Sierra," 11 Oct. 2018 Add on a prep board for the ultimate campsite, party, or tailgate accessory. Sunset, "10 Gourmet Gifts for Foodie Dads," 22 Jan. 2018 Post time for the first race is 1:30 p.m., and tailgate picnics are encouraged. Maryanna Skowronski, The Aegis, "Maryland's steeplechase season kicks off Saturday, April 7, with Elkridge-Harford races," 2 Apr. 2018 Perfect for settling tailgate bets (and dating yourself as an old Brewers fan). Chris Foran, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "11 new baseball books that will help get you ready for opening day," 22 Mar. 2018 That means fans must drink their fill in advance at local bars or at tailgate gatherings in parking lots. Mark Price, charlotteobserver, "Vexing NCAA tournament rule will fuel more beer drinking in uptown Charlotte | Charlotte Observer," 16 Mar. 2018 This is tailgate central, where folks picnic and party while teams pass by. Anchorage Daily News, "Here are 6 of the best places to view the Iditarod ceremonial start," 3 Mar. 2018 Chiefs fans have more reason than most to stay in the parking lot as long as possible, not just because of the concession prices but because of the tailgate scene. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: Hosmer’s greatest contribution, trading Marcus Peters (?), 10 key KC athletes, and Bob Huggins," 20 Feb. 2018 Clarkson was one of the tailgate performances Sunday at Nomadic Live at The Armory. Peter Martinez, CBS News, "Super Bowl 2018: Eagles pull off stunning win over Patriots -- live updates," 5 Feb. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of tailgate


1854, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1949, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1


1962, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for tailgate

Last Updated

3 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tailgate

The first known use of tailgate was in 1854

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More Definitions for tailgate



Financial Definition of tailgate

What It Is

Tailgating occurs when a broker buys or sells a security after doing the same for a client.

How It Works

Let's say John Doe is a broker for Jane Smith. Jane calls John and tells him she just saw a press release that Company XYZ is bringing in a new hot-shot CEO. She tells him to buy 5,000 shares of Company XYZ for her account. John executes the trade for Jane and then tailgates by buying another 5,000 shares for himself because he has been watching Company XYZ and agrees with Jane that the CEO change should be a good thing for the stockholders.

In some cases, brokers tailgate when the client's order is so large that its execution will affect the price of the security.

Why It Matters

Tailgating is not the same as frontrunning. In frontrunning, the broker executes the trade for his own account before executing the client's trade. In tailgating, the broker executes the trade for his own account after executing the client's trade. Frontrunning is illegal; tailgating is just in poor taste for many reasons, not the least of which is that the broker's job is to make money for his clients and know more than they do.

Source: Investing Answers



English Language Learners Definition of tailgate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a door at the back of a vehicle (such as a station wagon or pickup truck) that opens downward and that can be lowered or removed to make it easier to load things into the vehicle



English Language Learners Definition of tailgate (Entry 2 of 2)

: to drive too closely behind another vehicle

: to have a tailgate party


tail·​gate | \ ˈtāl-ˌgāt \

Kids Definition of tailgate

: a panel at the back end of a vehicle that can be lowered for loading and unloading

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More from Merriam-Webster on tailgate

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tailgate

Spanish Central: Translation of tailgate

Nglish: Translation of tailgate for Spanish Speakers

Comments on tailgate

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


a complex dispute or argument

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