AskDefine | Define tail

Dictionary Definition



1 the posterior part of the body of a vertebrate especially when elongated and extending beyond the trunk or main part of the body
2 the time of the last part of something; "the fag end of this crisis-ridden century"; "the tail of the storm" [syn: fag end, tail end]
3 any projection that resembles the tail of an animal [syn: tail end]
4 the fleshy part of the human body that you sit on; "he deserves a good kick in the butt"; "are you going to sit on your fanny and do nothing?" [syn: buttocks, nates, arse, butt, backside, bum, buns, can, fundament, hindquarters, hind end, keister, posterior, prat, rear, rear end, rump, stern, seat, tail end, tooshie, tush, bottom, behind, derriere, fanny, ass]
5 a spy employed to follow someone and report their movements [syn: shadow, shadower]
6 (usually plural) the reverse side of a coin that does not bear the representation of a person's head [ant: head]
7 the rear part of an aircraft [syn: tail assembly, empennage]
8 the rear part of a ship [syn: stern, after part, quarter, poop]


1 go after with the intent to catch; "The policeman chased the mugger down the alley"; "the dog chased the rabbit" [syn: chase, chase after, trail, tag, give chase, dog, go after, track]
2 remove or shorten the tail of an animal [syn: dock, bob]
3 remove the stalk of fruits or berries

User Contributed Dictionary



From tæġel. In some senses, apparently by a generalization of the usual opposition between head and tail.



  1. The caudal appendage of an animal that is attached to its posterior and near the anus.
  2. The tail-end of a creature (buttocks, even if tailless) or object, e.g. the rear of an aircraft's fuselage, containing the tailfin.
    When a grumpy client of the frat's annual carwash complained the tail of his menure-soiled tractor wasn't completely cleaned, the poor pledges had to drop trou and bend over to get their own tails paddled in public
  3. An object or part thereof resembling a tail in shape, such as the thongs on a cat-o'-nine-tails or other multi-tail whip.
  4. Specifically, the visible stream of dust and gases blown from a comet by the solar wind.
  5. The latter part of a time period or event, or (collectively) persons or objects represented in this part.
  6. The part of a distribution most distant from the mode; as, a long tail.
  7. One who surreptitiously follows another.
  8. The last four or five batsmen in the batting order, usually specialist bowlers.
  9. The lower loop of the letters g, q, and y in the roman alphabet.
  10. especially in plural The side of a coin not bearing the head; the reverse.
  11. Sexual intercourse.


tail of animal
comet tail
surreptitious follower
cricket term
  • Dutch: achtereinde, achterste, achterwerk, zitvlak
  • German: Hintern, Hinterteil, Gesäß
the rear of an aircraft's fuselage, containing the tailfin
  • Dutch: staart, staartstuk
  • Hebrew:
  • Russian: хвост (xvost)
(typography) The lower loop of the letters g, q and y of the roman alphabet
  • Dutch: staart
The side of a coin not bearing the head
Translations to be checked


to tail

Extensive Definition

The tail is the section at the rear end of an animal's body; in general, the term refers to a distinct, flexible appendage to the torso. It is the part of the body that corresponds roughly to the sacrum and coccyx in mammals and birds. While tails are primarily a feature of vertebrates, some invertebrates—including scorpions and springtails—have tail-like appendages.


Animal tails are used in a variety of ways. They provide a source of locomotion for fish and some other forms of marine life. Many land animals use their tails to brush away flies and other biting insects. Some species, including cats and kangaroos, use their tails for balance, and some, such as New World monkeys and opossums, use their prehensile tails to grasp tree branches.
Tails are also used for social signaling. Some deer species flash the white underside of their tails to warn other nearby deer of possible danger, and canids (including domestic dogs) indicate emotions through the positioning of their tails. Evolutionary pressures have led to the development of armored tails in some species, and some, such as the tails of scorpions contain venom.
Some species of lizard can detach ("cast") their tails from their bodies. This can help them to escape from predators, which are either distracted by the wriggling detached tail, or left with only the tail while the rest of the lizard flees. Tails cast in this manner generally grow back over time, though the replacement is typically darker in color than the original.
The tails of most birds end in long feathers called rectrices. These feathers are used as a rudder, helping the bird to steer and maneuver in flight; they also help the bird to balance while it is perched. In some species—such as birds of paradise, lyrebirds and peacocks—modified tail feathers play an important role in courtship displays. The extra-stiff tail feathers of other species, including woodpeckers and woodcreepers, allow them to brace themselves firmly against tree trunks.

Human tails

Human embryos have a tail that measures about one-sixth of the size of the embryo itself. As the embryo develops into a fetus, the tail is absorbed by the growing body. The developmental tail is thus a human vestigial structure. Infrequently, a child is born with a "soft tail", which contains no vertebrae, but only blood vessels, muscles, and nerves, although there have been a very few documented cases of tails containing cartilage or up to five vertebrae. Modern procedures allow doctors to eliminate the tail at delivery. The longest human tail on record belonged to a twelve-year-old boy living in what was then French Indochina, which measured 229 mm (9 inches). A man named Chandre Oram, who was born in India, is famous because of his tail. Nonetheless, it is not believed to be a true tail but a case of spina bifida. Sara Herandi, a female, was another similar case but to a smaller extent (approximately 5-inches), her case was more abnormal as her tail contained hair that resembled that of a squirrel's tail.
Humans have a tail bone (the coccyx) attached to the pelvis, in the same place which other mammals have tails. The tail bone is formed of fused vertebrae, usually four, at the bottom of the vertebral column. It doesn't protrude externally, but retains an anatomical purpose: providing an attachment for muscles like the gluteus maximus.


tail in Bulgarian: Опашка
tail in Catalan: Cua (anatomia)
tail in Czech: Ocas
tail in Welsh: Cynffon
tail in Danish: Hale
tail in German: Schwanz
tail in Estonian: Saba
tail in Spanish: Cola
tail in Esperanto: Vosto
tail in French: Queue (animal)
tail in Scottish Gaelic: Earball
tail in Indonesian: Ekor
tail in Italian: Coda (anatomia)
tail in Hebrew: זנב
tail in Latvian: Aste
tail in Lithuanian: Uodega
tail in Dutch: Staart
tail in Japanese: 尾
tail in Norwegian: Hale
tail in Norwegian Nynorsk: Hale
tail in Polish: Ogon
tail in Portuguese: Cauda
tail in Russian: Хвост
tail in Simple English: Tail
tail in Slovenian: Rep
tail in Finnish: Häntä
tail in Swedish: Svans
tail in Turkish: Kuyruk
tail in Ukrainian: Хвіст
tail in Chinese: 尾

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Thule, Ultima Thule, acknowledgments, adherent, affix, aft, after, aftermost, afterpart, afterpiece, allonge, appendage, appendix, arm, arse, ass, attendant, back, back door, back matter, back seat, back side, backside, backward, bastard title, bedog, behind, bibliography, bitter end, bottom, bottom dollar, bough, boundary, braid, branch, breech, brush, buff, bum, bun, butt, butt end, buttocks, can, catch line, catchword, cauda, caudal, caudal appendage, caudate, caudated, caudation, caudiform, cavaliere servente, chase, cheeks, chignon, coda, codicil, coil, colophon, come after, come behind, commentary, conclusive, contents, contents page, copyright page, courtier, croup, cue, dangler, dedication, definitive, dependent, determinative, disciple, dock, dog, enclitic, endleaf, endmost, endpaper, endsheet, envoi, epilogue, errata, eventual, extreme, extremity, eye, fag end, fan, fanny, fantail, farthest, farthest bound, final, flag, flunky, flyleaf, folio, follow, follow a clue, follow up, follower, following, fore edge, foreword, front matter, go after, go behind, half-title page, hand, hanger-on, head, heel, henchman, hind, hind end, hind part, hinder, hindermost, hindhand, hindhead, hindmost, homme de cour, hound, hunt down, imp, imprint, index, infix, inscription, interlineation, interpolation, introduction, joint, jumping-off place, keister, knot, last, leaf, leg, limb, limit, limiting, link, lobe, lobule, makeup, marginalia, member, move behind, nib, nose, nose out, note, occiput, offshoot, organ, page, parasite, partisan, pigtail, pinion, plait, point, polar, pole, posterior, postern, postscript, prat, preface, prefix, preliminaries, proclitic, public, pursue, pursuer, pursuivant, queue, rabbit, ramification, rattail, rear, rear end, rearmost, rearward, recto, retrograde, reverse, reverso, rider, rump, run down, run to earth, runner, running title, rusty-dusty, satellite, scholia, scion, sectary, shadow, signature, smell out, sniff out, spray, sprig, spur, stalk, stern, stooge, string along, stub, stump, subtitle, successor, suffix, supporter, switch, tab, table of contents, tag, tag after, tag along, tag end, tagtail, tail end, tailed, tailgate, taillike, tailpiece, tendril, terminal, terminating, terminative, text, tip, title, title page, topknot, trace, trace down, track, track down, trail, trail after, trailer, train, trainbearer, tread close upon, trim size, tuchis, tush, tushy, twig, twist, type page, ultimate, verso, votary, wake, ward heeler, wing
Privacy Policy, About Us, Terms and Conditions, Contact Us
Permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2
Material from Wikipedia, Wiktionary, Dict
Valid HTML 4.01 Strict, Valid CSS Level 2.1