From King Dictionary of Contemporary Englishtailtail1 /teɪl/ ●●● S2 W3 noun [countable] 1 animalHBAHB the part that sticks out at the back of an animal’s body, and that it can move The dog wagged its tail.white-tailed/long-tailed etc a white-tailed eagle2 ldoce_262.png aircraftTTA the back part of an aircraft3 shirtDC the bottom part of your shirt at the back, that you put inside your trousers4 back part [usually singular]BACK OF something the back or last part of something, especially something that is moving away from you We saw the tail of the procession disappearing round the corner.5 tails6 the tail end of something7 be on somebody’s tail8 follow informalFOLLOW someone who is employed to watch and follow someone, especially a criminalput a tail on somebody (=order someone to follow another person) 9 turn tail10 with your tail between your legs11 it’s (a case of) the tail wagging the dog12 chase tailCOLLOCATIONSadjectiveslongSome dinosaurs had long necks and equally long tails.shortIts tail is short and pointed.bushy (=with long thick fur)My cat has a soft bushy tail.a prehensile tail technical (=able to hold things)Many monkeys have prehensile tails.verbsa dog wags its tail/its tail wagsDomino rushed to meet her, tail wagging with excitement.a cow/cat etc swishes its tail (=quickly moves it from side to side)The cow wandered off, swishing her tail.tail + NOUNtail feathersThe bird’s wings and tail feathers were a beautiful purple color.COMMON ERRORSDon’t say ‘wave its tail’ or ‘shake its tail’. Say wag its tail.
Examples from the Corpus
tailLuxurystarved veterans tapped wartime savings to buy record numbers of wraparound windshields and tail fins.It is a conveyance of dreams: chrome, tail fins, pale blue bodywork.Can you think of a sympathetic animal with a hairless tail?Taffy always wags her tail when I come home.Miller noticed that, among the swallows he studied, the longest tails of the males were also the most symmetrical.Andersson tackled the question directly by experimentally altering the tail lengths of the males.When I pedal-turned the tail away from the flames, my door flew open.the tail of a cometThe crews work their tail off and then only get six hours of rest a day.white-tailed/long-tailed etcA male long-tailed widow bird floats across his territory displaying his enormous tail.
tailtail2 verb [transitive] informalFOLLOW to follow someone and watch what they do, where they go etc The police have been tailing him for several months.see thesaurus at follow tail away tail back tail off→ See Verb table
Examples from the Corpus
tailCars and small vans, with only disrepair in common, were head to tail, headlights burning, a few yards away.He claims police have been tailing him for several months.The emissary of the Barbeques had tailed Mitchell as far as the top of the beach and hesitated to come closer.When I tailed off he sat nodding, like a doctor considering a diagnosis.He said it would also be operated with shorter trains, reflecting a tailing off in the capital's explosive population growth.During the low-water flows, trout fishing was exceptional and has been since, although it has tailed off somewhat.Over the last week, Hasbro shares ran up as high as 46 3 / 4 before tailing off.A group of photographers tailed the couple all over London.That police car has been tailing us for the last 5 miles.
Origin tail1 Old English tægel