Definition of tail noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//teɪl//
    ; NAmE NAmE//teɪl//
    Parts of a plane, Parts of animals
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    of bird/animal/fish
  1. 1   [countable] the part that sticks out and can be moved at the back of the body of a bird, an animal or a fish The dog ran up, wagging its tail. The male has beautiful tail feathers. see also ponytail See related entries: Parts of animals
  2. -tailed
  3. 2(in adjectives) having the type of tail mentioned a white-tailed eagle More Like This Compound adjectives for physical characteristics -beaked, -bellied, -billed, -blooded, -bodied, -cheeked, -chested, -eared, -eyed, -faced, -fingered, -footed, -haired, -handed, -headed, -hearted, -hipped, -lidded, -limbed, -mouthed, -necked, -nosed, -skinned, -tailed, -throated, -toothedSee worksheet.
  4. of plane/spacecraft
  5. 3  [countable] the back part of a plane, spacecraft, etc. the tail wing See related entries: Parts of a plane
  6. back/end of something
  7. 4[countable] tail (of something) a part of something that sticks out at the back like a tail the tail of a kite
  8. 5[countable] tail (of something) the last part of something that is moving away from you the tail of the procession see also tail end
  9. jacket
  10. 6 tails [plural] (also tailcoat [countable]) a long jacket divided at the back below the waist into two pieces that become narrower at the bottom, worn by men at very formal events The men all wore top hat and tails. see also coat-tails, shirt tail compare dinner jacket, morning coat
  11. side of coin
  12. 7tails [uncountable] the side of a coin that does not have a picture of the head of a person on it, used as one choice when a coin is tossed to decide something compare head
  13. person who follows somebody
  14. 8[countable] (informal) a person who is sent to follow somebody secretly and find out information about where that person goes, what they do, etc. The police have put a tail on him.
  15. Word OriginOld English tæg(e)l, from a Germanic base meaning ‘hair, hairy tail’; related to Middle Low German tagel ‘twisted whip, rope's end’. The early sense of the verb (early 16th cent.) was ‘fasten to the back of something’.Extra examples It was black from its nose to the tip of its tail. My dog loves to chase his tail. The dog ran out with its tail wagging madly. The dog wagged its tail furiously. The plane’s tail section had broken off. Traffic which used to be nose to tail now flows freely. the truck at the tail of our convoyIdioms
    can’t make head nor tail of something
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    to be unable to understand something I couldn't make head nor tail of what he was saying.
    (informal) to be very busy but in fact achieve very little used to ask somebody which side of a coin they think will be facing upwards when it is tossed in order to decide something by chance (British English) if cars, etc. are nose to tail, they are moving slowly in a long line with little space between them See related entries: Motoring problems and accidents (informal) following behind somebody very closely, especially in a car There’s been a white van sitting on my tail for the past ten miles. (informal) an unpleasant feature that comes at the end of a story, an event, etc. and spoils it
    the tail (is) wagging the dog
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    used to describe a situation in which the most important aspect is being influenced and controlled by somebody/something that is not as important
    to run away from a fight or dangerous situation When they heard the sirens, they turned tail and ran.
    with your tail between your legs
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    (informal) feeling ashamed or unhappy because you have been defeated or punished
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: tail