Green’s Dictionary of Slang

tail n.

[SE tail, of an animal; also the train of a woman’s dress or the tail of a man’s coat]

1. [14C+] the posterior, the buttocks; thus fig. use, synon. with arse/ass, as oneself.

2. [late 14C+] (also tale, tail-gap, -gate, -hole) the vagina; similarly used in homosexual contexts for the anus.

3. [mid-16C–1940s] (also tail-pike, -pin, -tackle, -trimmer) the penis.

4. [late 17C–mid-19C] (UK Und., also tale) a sword; thus tail-drawer [the way it projects beyond the wearer’s body].

5. [late 18C+] a prostitute.

6. a bustle.

7. [1910s+] women viewed collectively and as sex objects; thus piece of tail under piece n.

8. [1930s+] sexual intercourse.

9. [1940s] young boys suitable for homosexual relationships.

10. (gay) as camp play on sense 2, the anus.

11. in senses of surveillance.

(a) [20C+] (orig. US) an act of surveillance, esp. when following the target in the street; thus the individual(s) who carry out such surveillance.

(b) [1970s] (US prison) an infomer.

12. [1990s+] (drugs) the long-term effect of a drug, as opposed to the initial rush n. (4a)

13. [1990s+] (US prison) parole.

In compounds

tailbone (n.)

[20C+] (US) the buttocks.

tail-buzzer (n.) (also tail-dip, tail-diver) [buzzer n.1 /dip n.1 (3)/dive v.]

[mid–late 19C] (UK Und.) a thief who specializes in the picking of coat pockets.

tail-buzzing (n.)

[mid–late 19C] (UK Und.) stealing a wallet from a tailcoat pocket; also attrib.

tail-chaser (n.)

[1940s+] (US) a womanizer.

tail-drawer (n.)

[late 17C–early 19C] (UK Und.) a thief who steals gentlemen’s swords from their sides; thus tail-drawing n., such an act.

tail-feathers (n.)

[mid-15C+] pubic hair.

tail-fruit (n.)

[mid-15C+] children.

tail-gap/-gate (n.)

see sense 4 above.

tail-gunner (n.)

[1940s+] (US) a male homosexual.

tail-hole (n.)

see sense 4 above.

tail job (n.)

an act of following, surveillance.

tail-juice (n.)

1. [mid-15C+] urine.

2. [mid-15C+] semen.

tailman (n.)

[1960s] (US campus) a womanizer, a sexual athlete.

tail piece

a prostitute.

tail-pike/-pin (n.)

see sense 2 above.

tail-pit (n.)

[1900s–30s] (US Und.) a side pocket.

tail-tackle (n.)

see sense 2 above.

tail tea (n.) [Once Queen Victoria had died, her son Edward VII (r.1901–10) moved the ‘drawing rooms’ to the evening, a time more congenial to his own lifestyle]

[late 19C] (UK society) an afternoon tea attended by aristocratic ladies who had already been at the day’s ‘royal drawing room’ (Queen Victoria’s formal receptions) where trains were a part of formal dress.

tail timber (n.)

[late 19C] lavatory paper.

tail-trader (n.)

[19C] a prostitute.

tail-trading (n.)

[mid-15C+] prostitution.

tail tree (n.)

[mid-18C–19C] the penis.

tail-trimmer (n.)

see sense 2 above.

tail-wagging (n.) (also tail-work)

[mid-15C+] sexual intercourse.

tail water (n.)

[18C] urine.

In phrases

back a tail (v.)

[1960s+] (Aus.) to sodomize.

bit of tail (n.) [SE bit + bit n.1 (2c)/ sense 8]

[1920s+] a young woman, the vagina, thus sexual intercourse.

carry one’s tail (v.)

[20C+] (W.I.) to leave, to run off.

cut tail (v.)

[1950s–60s] (US) to run away.

drag one’s tail (v.)

1. [1920s+] (US) to mope around, to look miserable.

2. [1950s] to move.

get on one’s tail (v.)

[late 19C] (Aus.) to lose one’s temper.

get shot in the tail (v.)

[late 17C–early 18C] of a woman, to have sexual intercourse.

get some tail (v.)

[1970s+] (US) of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

give her a tail (v.)

[1960s+] of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

go tail-tickling (v.) (also go tail-twitching)

[late 17C–early 18C] of a man, to have sexual intercourse.

have a maggot in one’s tail (v.)

[late 17C–early 18C] of a woman, to be venereally diseased.

hoist tail (v.)

[1940s] (US) to get going, to set off.

hot in the tail (adj.) [hot adj. (1a)/light adj. (1)/warm adj. (15)]

1. [17C–early 18C] (also light in the tail, warm...) wanton, promiscuous.

2. [1930s–50s] (also hot in the pants) zealous, eager, esp. sexually.

hot-tail/-tailed (adj.)

see under hot adj.

let the tail go with the hide (v.) (also let the hide go with the tallow) [butchers’/slaughterhouse jargon; it implies the throwing in of the relatively worthless tail with the valuable hide]

[20C+] (US) to ignore small details while concentrating on the overall picture.

on someone’s tail

[1930s+] harassing, pursuing.

put someone’s tail in a crack (v.)

[1980s] (US) to cause trouble for someone.

shake one’s tail (v.)

1. to have sexual intercourse.

2. [1910s] (US) to leave.

tail out (v.) [SE tail; sense 1, i.e. one ‘moves one’s arse’]

[late 19C] (US) to run away, to make one’s escape.

In exclamations

my tail!

[late 17C+] a general excl. of disdain, dismissal, arrogant contempt.

SE in slang uses

In compounds

taildraft (n.) [SE draught/draft, the act of pulling]

[20C+] (Ulster) an idler, one who holds back.

tail-piece (n.)

[mid-19C] (UK Und.) three months’ imprisonment.

tailshred (v.) [‘adapted from fowlyard behaviour involving pecking out tail feathers. 1990s’ (McGill, Dict. N.Z. Slang, 2003)]

[2000s] (N.Z.) to drive a car closely (too closely) behind the one in front.

tail-wagger (n.) [1940s+]

1. a dog.

2. a general insult [the pej. use of SE cur].

In phrases

get on one’s own tail (v.)

1. [1910s+] (Aus.)

2. to become angry.

3. to become scared.

keep one’s tail quiet (v.)

[20C+] (W.I.) to stay where one is, to keep quiet, to stay out of trouble.

tail-end Charlie (n.) [RAF jargon tail-end charlie, a tail-gunner, the last aircraft in a flying formation]

[1940s+] the person or vehicle that comes last in a queue.