turn tail, to

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Related to To turn tail: turn tail and run

turn tail

To run away or flee, usually in fear. The burglars turned tail at the sound of our security alarm.
See also: tail, turn
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

turn tail (and run)

Fig. to flee; to run away in fright. I couldn't just turn tail and run, but I wasn't going to fight that monster, either. Sometimes turning tail is the only sensible thing to do.
See also: tail, turn
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

turn tail

Run away, as in When they heard the sirens, the boys turned tail. This term alludes to an animal's turning its back in flight. [Mid-1500s]
See also: tail, turn
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

turn tail

If you turn tail, you turn and run away from someone or something because you are frightened of them. The rebels were forced back until they turned tail and fled. I go weak all over when I see her. Stumbling, I almost turn tail.
See also: tail, turn
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

turn tail

turn round and run away. informal
See also: tail, turn
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

turn ˈtail (and run, flee, etc.)

run away from a fight or a dangerous situation: As soon as he saw the police he turned tail and fled.
See also: tail, turn
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

turn tail

verb
See also: tail, turn
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.

turn tail, to

To turn one’s back on; to run away. This term, with its image of turning one’s rear in flight, has been used since the sixteenth century. “Such a haggarde as would turne taile to a full fist,” wrote Robert Greene (Euphues His Censure, 1587).
See also: turn
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
Then, he didn't wait around for anyone to turn tail and trudge back to their workstations in the press box.
It was at this moment I decided to turn tail and head for something a little less precarious.
Just don't be surprised that, when the cycle flips and brokers and carriers find themselves under pressure to turn tail, your coverage strategy may be headed for a flop.
IN Iraq the US are about to turn tail and skulk away blaming the Iraqis for not wanting their help.
It is a captivating but confusing time for the swaggering, bungling 21-year-old who has already earned himself the nickname "Runaway" due to his tendency to turn tail when the going gets tough.
The easiest--and typically most effective--move is simply to turn tail and fly away before detection.
During another visit in the early '80s, she and some partners driving in northern Africa had to turn tail and flee from grenade launchers trained at them by Karimojong rebels, a northern tribe notorious in Uganda.
But neither is this the time to turn tail. When you get down to it, retail expansion and aggressive strategic planning have a lot in common with investing in the market--both are long-term endeavors.
But one look at Derby was enough for his Missus to turn tail. And Francesco pulled out - just as Roberto Baggio did.
But he was forced to turn tail when angry staff showed him - and his furry friend - the door.
It almost makes me want to turn tail and return to my dhobi in Dubai who appears at my door whenever I require his services.
Her curiosity is enough to suppress the adrenalin-fuelled urge to turn tail.
He doesn't feel confident about coping so, naturally, he wants to turn tail and run.
But in some cases it's much wiser just to turn tail and run--or, as research at the Oregon State University Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport shows, to turn fin and swim.