the tail wagging the dog

the tail wagging the dog

The smallest or least important part of something in control of the larger or more important elements; a reversal of typical roles or dynamics of power. They reorganized their entire weekly schedule just because their son likes to sleep in late. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. Their group is small but very vocal, so be sure that management doesn't give in to their demands. We don't want the tail wagging the dog, after all.
See also: dog, tail, wag

tail wagging the dog

a situation where a small part is controlling the whole of something. John was just hired yesterday, and today he's bossing everyone around. It's a case of the tail wagging the dog. Why is this small matter taking so much time? Now it's the tail wagging the dog!
See also: dog, tail, wag

tail wagging the dog, the

A small or unimportant factor or element governing an important one; a reversal of the proper roles. For example, She found herself explaining the new therapy to her doctor-a real case of the tail wagging the dog . [c. 1900]
See also: tail, wag

the tail wagging the dog

People talk about the tail wagging the dog to describe a situation where an unimportant part of something or an unimportant person or group involved in something has too much influence over it. These enormous contracts can end up with the tail wagging the dog — with the supplier having more control over the business agenda than the client. To avoid the impression of the tail wagging the dog, the Chancellor cannot be seen being influenced by the wishes of a minority party.
See also: dog, tail, wag

the tail wags the dog

the less important or subsidiary factor or thing dominates a situation; the usual roles are reversed.
1997 Spectator What is wrong is the almost total lack of artistic leadership, the administrative tail wagging the dog.
See also: dog, tail, wag

the tail (is) wagging the ˈdog

(also let the tail wag the ˈdog) used to describe a situation where a small, unimportant thing controls a larger, more important thing: In this company the workers tell the manager what he can and cannot do. It’s a real case of the tail wagging the dog.
See also: dog, tail, wag
References in periodicals archive ?
Is it some form of political contrivance that has the tail wagging the dog or some form of constitutional constipation?
One of the main reasons for my decision was that I saw it a possible new start to get our identity back and to govern our own affairs, as opposed to the tail wagging the dog.
Talk about the tail wagging the dog? A strange democracy indeed!
Our law-makers are supporting the tail wagging the dog. Parents are about to be made criminals and are in danger of having their children taken from them as a result.
The EPA Power Plan was another example of President Obama and Gina McCarthy regulating by having the tail wagging the dog. Their standards were unattainable and did nothing to clean up the environment and instead killed high paying jobs, Daines said.
Experts often describe Korea's wage structure as the case of the tail wagging the dog. Basic wages represent a relatively small portion of total payments with the rest filled in with various benefits, such as bonuses, merit pay, and overtime, non-duty, family and transportation allowances.
I would certainly not condone any physical solutions, but you can't have the tail wagging the dog, to use an old fashioned phrase.
REGARDING the complaints by asylum seekers who are made to wear wristbands in order to access their free meals, I would just like to say, "Is this is not a case of the tail wagging the dog?" Do these people not realise how lucky they are that we have accepted them into our country.
When the Labour Government in Cardiff established the Betsi Board in the first place, did they ever realise what a calamity they were creating with "the tail wagging the dog" leaving the people of North Wales very angry with no hope for their families' future in medical care?
Many of the most popular CMMS packages available in the Middle East market try to horn shoe, the client into their offer, a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. With this in mind the client should also consider how closely the standard, sold package will meet their real requirements.
This truly is a case of the tail wagging the dog. Israel believes it can put America in its place and no one appears to be confronting that notion.
But in a practical sense, selecting funds based solely on tax efficiency is like the tail wagging the dog. It's important, but the bottom line is the bottom line.
Because derivatives oversight is still largely unmoored from straight regulation, the industry is the tail wagging the dog of the banking authorities.
The tail wagging the dog. A phrase as laughable as it is lamentable in Scottish football.
It is the settlers, the tail wagging the dog, who imposed this law on the State of Israel." The deadline set by the court for the state to respond is March 14, 2013.