tail·​gate | \ ˈtāl-ˌgāt How to pronounce tailgate (audio) \

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

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: Noun Any full gameday experience begins with a tailgate. Michael Gehlken, Dallas News, "What was it like attending Cowboys' home opener? COVID-19 safety measures couldn’t contain fans' comeback passions.," 21 Sep. 2020 The University of Georgia is limiting crowds at its home games, banning tailgate parties and encouraging social distancing at the games. Katie Shepherd, Washington Post, "The University of Georgia will host football games, but not in-person voting, this fall," 17 Sep. 2020 The last tailgate:Lions fans gather one more time for late Detroit Fire Captain: 'This is for Frank' Stafford’s mistakes were compounded when his coach, Matt Patricia, fell into a similar trap. Dave Birkett, Detroit Free Press, "Why Detroit Lions' jaw-dropping loss shouldn't raise alarms about this season," 14 Sep. 2020 Pockets to hold clamps are designed into the tailgate so wood can be secured for nailing or sawing. Peter Valdes-dapena, CNN, "Ford's powerful new F-150 offers fully reclining seats, a bottle opener, and a hybrid option," 25 June 2020 Mayor Sylvester Turner announced Wednesday that limited in-person events can start in Houston, including a Houston Texans tailgate and Houston Dynamo and Dash games at BBVA Stadium. Abigail Rosenthal, Houston Chronicle, "UT-Austin requiring student football ticket holders to test negative for COVID-19 before game," 10 Sep. 2020 At the same time, the mayor banned tailgate parties before Browns games. Robert Higgs, cleveland, "Cleveland to target block and street parties to slow spread of COVID-19 coronavirus, Mayor Frank Jackson says," 26 Aug. 2020 This would have been awesome at the tailgate this year. Mary Honkus, PEOPLE.com, "It's All Happening: Pumpkin Spiced Hard Seltzer Is Coming this Fall," 20 Aug. 2020 The rear spoiler above the tailgate may not have been welded correctly. Detroit Free Press, "Car recalls for August 20-27," 29 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb But groups that include family members or fans who plan to sit together in the stadium will be permitted to tailgate in their own parking space. cleveland, "Most colleges have banned tailgating for 2020. Will Ohio State follow suit?," 16 Sep. 2020 No place parties like Miami parties, but the Canes weren’t allowed to tailgate or even have their students in Hard Rock Stadium for their season opener. Joseph Goodman | Jgoodman@al.com, al, "UAB, Miami a showcase of weirdness during a pandemic," 10 Sep. 2020 If people try to buck the rules and tailgate, anyway, Driehaus said, enforcement would be up to the Cincinnati Police Department. Scott Wartman, The Enquirer, "'These are not normal times.' No fans and no tailgating this Sunday for Bengals home opener," 10 Sep. 2020 One of the trickier decisions that Taylor had to make at Kansas State was to prohibit tailgating and re-entry — interrupting a long-running tradition of fans leaving the stadium at halftime to tailgate at their cars. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, "'A very risky proposition': As some schools punt on football, others prepare for return of fans — and tailgating," 27 Aug. 2020 The city will not allow Browns fans to tailgate at the Muni Lot and other locations downtown before games this season because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Cliff Pinckard, cleveland, "Coronavirus reopenings, restrictions and closings in Ohio for Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020," 25 Aug. 2020 The ability to tailgate will be left up to individual schools, but face coverings will be required inside the stadiums. John Sharp, al, "Crumbling expectations: Plummeting tourism means lower lodging revenue for Alabama cities," 20 Aug. 2020 At Road America, fans park inside the gates and typically tailgate while watching from along the fence lines and hillsides around the 640-acre property. Dave Kallmann, The Indianapolis Star, "Scott Dixon wins Road America, now 3-for-3 to start IndyCar season," 12 July 2020 The Blount-Vigor game annually draws thousands of fans, who tailgate from early in the morning until game time. Ben Thomas | Bthomas@al.com, al, "Blount COVID quarantine forces cancellation of Friday’s traditional ‘Battle of Prichard’," 17 Aug. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Because of its tailgate atmosphere, 42 televisions, proximity to FirstEnergy Stadium and large indoor-outdoor space, Winking Lizard in the Galleria has become popular for fans on their way to the game. cleveland, "For bars and restaurants, Browns fans turnout remains uncertain in coronavirus times," 10 Sep. 2020 His team has gone so far as to tear down a ticket office and a retail store to create more points of entry for fans notorious for arriving late from their tailgate parties. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, "U of L's Cardinal Stadium preparations are reassuring, provided that fans do their part," 9 Sep. 2020 The Texans will randomly select and contact the winners, who each will be designated a tailgate spot at the stadium for their car with up to four people inside. Matt Young, Houston Chronicle, "How to get to attend Texans drive-in watch party at NRG Stadium," 1 Sep. 2020 Which was — until the Raiders officially left Oakland for a new $1.84 billion stadium in Las Vegas — the best tailgate lot in the country. Adrian Spinelli, SFChronicle.com, "Barbecued Brazilian-style red-wine chicken wings bring unforgettable zing," 28 Aug. 2020 Guests showed up for tailgate-style events, ordering and eating in their parking spaces. Leeanne Griffin, courant.com, "CT chef Tyler Anderson goes back to his SoCal roots with TA-Que, featuring street tacos and barbecue in Millwright’s parking lot," 26 Aug. 2020 From tailgate toss games to car decals, keep scrolling to snag the best sales on the web for the sports fans in your life. Melissa Lee, USA TODAY, "The best sporting goods on sale to support your favorite teams," 19 Aug. 2020 The event will be unique, in that it will be set up in a tailgate format. cleveland, "Richmond Heights to hold outdoor ‘Tailgate Community Discussion’ on Belle Oaks Aug. 9," 1 Aug. 2020 The tailgate protest appears to have been organized by some of the people who held rallies for the state to re-open from its original shutdown prompted by COVID-19. Emily Wilder, The Arizona Republic, "Fourth of July events planned in protest of Ducey's new COVID-19 executive order," 4 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for tailgate

Time Traveler

The first known use of tailgate was in 1854

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Statistics for tailgate

Last Updated

25 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tailgate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tailgate. Accessed 26 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for tailgate


How to pronounce tailgate (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tailgate

 (Entry 1 of 2)

chiefly US : 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
US : to have a tailgate party


tail·​gate | \ ˈtāl-ˌgāt How to pronounce tailgate (audio) \

Kids Definition of tailgate

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tailgate

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tailgate

Nglish: Translation of tailgate for Spanish Speakers

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