can't make head or tail of

(redirected from tails of)

can't make heads or tails (out) of (someone or something)

Cannot understand someone or something at all; cannot make any sense of someone or something. I've been working with the new software for hours, but I still can't make heads or tails out of it. I can't make heads or tails of that new guy in accounting. Sometimes, he's really friendly, and then other times he acts like he's never met me before.
See also: head, make, of, tail

can't make head or tail of

Also can't make heads or tails of. Fail to understand, be quite confused about, as in I can't make head or tail of these directions. A version of this term dates back to Roman times, when Cicero wrote Ne caput nec pedes ("neither head nor feet") to describe confusion. In the current idiom the precise allusion is unclear: head and tail may mean top and bottom, beginning and end, or the two sides of a coin. [Second half of 1600s]
See also: head, make, of, tail

can’t make head or/nor ˈtail of something

(informal) not be able to understand something at all: I can’t make head or tail of this picture — is it upside down?
See also: head, make, nor, of, something, tail
References in periodicals archive ?
In early May, 30 and 33 years ago, I glimpsed two of the most amazing long comet tails of my life.
In lab experiments, big brown bats struck at the tails of luna moths (Actias luna) instead of other body parts 55 percent of the time.
The tails of these large lizards were long considered a tasty snack by the desert-dwelling bedouin people.
Tails of smaller geckos are thinner and appear less likely to interfere with locomotion.
After mosquito engorgement, the tips of the tails of 29 mice were severed and immediately homogenized in 300 [micro]L of Eagle's minimal essential medium (MEM) supplemented with 20% fetal bovine serum (FBS) in a Mixer Mill 300 (Retsch Inc., Newton, PA, USA); the tails of 10 control mice were left intact.
Fred, a rabbit, greatly admires the tails of his many friends.
Due to this information the agency will order ultrasound inspections of the tails of those Airbus aircraft that have either hit turbulence or have had sharp rudder movements, reported The Associated Press.
The tails of long-tailed rodents occasionally are injured or severed when a sprung trap door comes into contact with them.
First thought to be a comet lurking among the asteroids, the object P/2013 P5 turns out to be a rock shedding tails of dust into space.
According to Persons, the final vertebrae in the tails of a group of dinosaurs called oviraptors were fused together forming a ridged, blade-like structure.
Another spacecraft, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, had previously seen hints that CMEs disrupted the tails of two other comets.
The last page of the book, The Tail End, gives brief factual in formation about the tails of each featured animal and how they are used in the context of the animal's life.
Scott Persons from the University of Alberta began studying the tails of various species of Oviraptor as part of a larger study on the tails of all theropods, a group of dinosaurs related closely to modern-day birds.
The "maximum possible length" assumed that the tail was straight, like the ion tails of other, lesser comets.
The U of A paleontology student began his research by comparing the tails of modern-day reptiles like crocodiles and Komodo dragons to T.rex's tail.