Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to tailing: Tailing ponds
Of a vehicle, for its rear to slide erratically from side to side on the road (likened to a fish's tail moving back and forth). The roads are pretty icy today, and I saw a couple of cars fishtail coming around that corner.
1. verb, informal To follow someone or something, especially in order to keep them or it under surveillance. I had a paranoid feeling that someone was tailing me as I made my way to the hideout with the stolen goods. I want you to tail that car and tell me where it goes.
2. noun, informal A person who is employed or instructed to follow someone or something, especially in order to keep them or it under surveillance. Make sure you don't have a tail on you when you're delivering the secret documents to the boss. Let's put a tail on the car and see where it takes the ambassador.
3. noun, informal The course or track of a person or animal being pursued. I can't come to the hideout—I think there's someone on my tail. The fox fled to the woods, with several hounds right on its tail.
4. noun, slang The buttocks (usually figuratively). Everyone expected them to beat us in the game, but we kicked their tails! Get your tail in here, dinner's ready!
5. noun, vulgar slang Sexual intercourse or activity. Marcus is always obsessed with getting some tail whenever we go out to the clubs.
6. noun, offensive slang A person or people viewed as an object of sexual gratification. Used especially in reference to women. She was a hot piece of tail, that's for sure, but beyond that I had no real interest in her.
tail (something) in(to) (something)
dated To insert some construction material, such as a beam, rafter, stone slab, etc., into something else, typically a wall. Usually used in passive constructions. The beam should be tailed in the wall at one end in order to create proper support for the platform. The kneeler is simply a block of stone that is well tailed into the wall.
See also: tail
tail after (someone or something)
To follow along after someone or something, especially in a diligent, dutiful, or persistent manner. We set out on our hike for the day with the three kids tailing after us. I tailed after the suspect for nearly four hours to figure out where he was stashing the stolen goods. Jimmy idolizes his big brother, always tailing after him wherever he goes.
To dwindle, diminish, or fade away; to become fainter or weaker. He started talking about the tax code, but he tailed away when he realized no one was listening. The music from the radio tailed away as the car drove off. Once famous for creating a huge range of innovative devices, the company's ideas seem to have started tailing away in recent years.
To dwindle, diminish, or fade down; to become weaker, smaller, or less active. As is typical, shares for the company began to tail down shortly after the massive spike yesterday. After the number of applicants continued tailing down year after year, the competition launched a huge marketing campaign to spark new interest in the public.
tail into (something)
To flow into, converge with, or connect to something by or at the end. The financial presentation tailed into a discussion about possible ways of boosting revenue. The iconic river winds its way through the center of the city, eventually tailing into the harbor that was once the country's primary point of commerce. The coffee starts with an intense caramel flavor that tails into that of dark chocolate.
See also: tail
To dwindle, diminish, or fade away; to become fainter or weaker. His campaign started really strong, but public support for the candidate tailed off following a series of scandals. The lights on the car began tailing off into the blackness of the night, leaving me alone in the empty field. He started talking about the tax code, but he tailed off when he realized no one was listening.
tail out (from something)
To lead away from something like a tail. The venue already had a huge line of people tailing out an hour after tickets went up for sale. The string of controversies that has tailed out of this administration is shameful.
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.
to dwindle to nothing. The number of people filing for unemployment insurance is beginning to tail off. As the storms tailed off, we began to realize how much damage had been done.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
Also, tail away. Diminish gradually, subside, as in The fireworks tailed off into darkness. [Mid-1800s]
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.
tail awayor tail off
1. To diminish gradually; dwindle or subside: The singer's voice tails away at the end of the song. The fireworks tailed off into darkness.
2. Sports To veer from a straight course. Used of a ball that has been hit or thrown: The pitcher snapped his wrist when throwing the ball, and it tailed away as it approached home plate. The wind caused the football to tail off and the receiver couldn't catch it. The uneven table caused the pool ball to tail off.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs. Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
in. [for the rear of a car] to whip back and forth like a fish moving its tail. The caddy fishtailed on the curb and almost spun around.
McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Copyright © 2006 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved.