1 of 3


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


2 of 3


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


3 of 3


: relating to or being a tailgate party

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
The electronic gate-release, which could unlatch the tailgate while the vehicle is in motion, can cause a road hazard and increase the risk of a crash, according to the NHTSA. Amaris Encinas, The Courier-Journal, 12 June 2024 Six months ago, during a campaign stop that doubled as a Hawkeyes tailgate in Coralville, Iowa, Haley referred to Clark as Kaitlan Collins, who is actually a CNN anchor. Alex Abad-Santos, Vox, 11 June 2024
Organized by a coalition of seven tailgating groups, the event will feature tailgaters from Cleveland, Cincinnati, Houston, Los Angeles, New York and Tampa, Florida. Jenna Prestininzi, Detroit Free Press, 25 Apr. 2024 Parking lots open for tailgating three hours before most games and at 4:10 p.m. before 6:40 p.m. games, according to the Brewers website. Claire Reid, Journal Sentinel, 2 Apr. 2024
For your picnic, tailgate, or pool party, there are chicken bundles that include jugs of sweet tea, biscuits, and sides. Brandee Gruener, Southern Living, 7 June 2024 Hirsch, grabbing his chips and drink in a tailgate lot full of 49ers fans, has felt nervous throughout the Lions season and playoffs. Detroit Free Press, 28 Jan. 2024 See all Example Sentences for tailgate 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tailgate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 23 Jun. 2024.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!