turn tail, to

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: to, turn
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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