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2 definitions found
 for To turn tail
From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Tail \Tail\, n. [AS. taegel, taegl; akin to G. zagel, Icel.
     tagl, Sw. tagel, Goth. tagl hair. [root]59.]
     1. (Zool.) The terminal, and usually flexible, posterior
        appendage of an animal.
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     Note: The tail of mammals and reptiles contains a series of
           movable vertebrae, and is covered with flesh and hairs
           or scales like those of other parts of the body. The
           tail of existing birds consists of several more or less
           consolidated vertebrae which supports a fanlike group
           of quills to which the term tail is more particularly
           applied. The tail of fishes consists of the tapering
           hind portion of the body ending in a caudal fin. The
           term tail is sometimes applied to the entire abdomen of
           a crustacean or insect, and sometimes to the terminal
           piece or pygidium alone.
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     2. Any long, flexible terminal appendage; whatever resembles,
        in shape or position, the tail of an animal, as a catkin.
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              Doretus writes a great praise of the distilled
              waters of those tails that hang on willow trees.
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     3. Hence, the back, last, lower, or inferior part of
        anything, -- as opposed to the head, or the superior
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              The Lord will make thee the head, and not the tail.
                                                    xxviii. 13.
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     4. A train or company of attendants; a retinue.
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              "Ah," said he, "if you saw but the chief with his
              tail on."                             --Sir W.
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     5. The side of a coin opposite to that which bears the head,
        effigy, or date; the reverse; -- rarely used except in the
        expression "heads or tails," employed when a coin is
        thrown up for the purpose of deciding some point by its
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     6. (Anat.) The distal tendon of a muscle.
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     7. (Bot.) A downy or feathery appendage to certain achenes.
        It is formed of the permanent elongated style.
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     8. (Surg.)
        (a) A portion of an incision, at its beginning or end,
            which does not go through the whole thickness of the
            skin, and is more painful than a complete incision; --
            called also tailing.
        (b) One of the strips at the end of a bandage formed by
            splitting the bandage one or more times.
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     9. (Naut.) A rope spliced to the strap of a block, by which
        it may be lashed to anything.
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     10. (Mus.) The part of a note which runs perpendicularly
         upward or downward from the head; the stem. --Moore
         (Encyc. of Music).
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     11. pl. Same as Tailing, 4.
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     12. (Arch.) The bottom or lower portion of a member or part,
         as a slate or tile.
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     13. pl. (Mining) See Tailing, n., 5.
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     14. (Astronomy) the long visible stream of gases, ions, or
         dust particles extending from the head of a comet in the
         direction opposite to the sun.
     15. pl. (Rope Making) In some forms of rope-laying machine,
         pieces of rope attached to the iron bar passing through
         the grooven wooden top containing the strands, for
         wrapping around the rope to be laid.
         [Webster 1913 Suppl.]
     16. pl. A tailed coat; a tail coat. [Colloq. or Dial.]
         [Webster 1913 Suppl.]
     17. (Aeronautics) In airplanes, an airfoil or group of
         airfoils used at the rear to confer stability.
         [Webster 1913 Suppl.]
     18. the buttocks. [slang or vulgar]
     19. sexual intercourse, or a woman used for sexual
         intercourse; as, to get some tail; to find a piece of
         tail. See also tailing[3]. [slang and vulgar]
     Tail beam. (Arch.) Same as Tailpiece.
     Tail coverts (Zool.), the feathers which cover the bases of
        the tail quills. They are sometimes much longer than the
        quills, and form elegant plumes. Those above the quills
        are called the upper tail coverts, and those below, the
        under tail coverts.
     Tail end, the latter end; the termination; as, the tail end
        of a contest. [Colloq.]
     Tail joist. (Arch.) Same as Tailpiece.
     Tail of a comet (Astron.), a luminous train extending from
        the nucleus or body, often to a great distance, and
        usually in a direction opposite to the sun.
     Tail of a gale (Naut.), the latter part of it, when the
        wind has greatly abated. --Totten.
     Tail of a lock (on a canal), the lower end, or entrance
        into the lower pond.
     Tail of the trenches (Fort.), the post where the besiegers
        begin to break ground, and cover themselves from the fire
        of the place, in advancing the lines of approach.
     Tail spindle, the spindle of the tailstock of a turning
        lathe; -- called also dead spindle.
     To turn tail, to run away; to flee.
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              Would she turn tail to the heron, and fly quite out
              another way; but all was to return in a higher
              pitch.                                --Sir P.
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From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 :

  Turn \Turn\ (t[^u]rn), v. t. [imp. & p. p. Turned (t[^u]rnd);
     p. pr. & vb. n. Turning.] [OE. turnen, tournen, OF.
     tourner, torner, turner, F. tourner, LL. tornare, fr. L.
     tornare to turn in a lathe, to round off, fr. tornus a lathe,
     Gr. to`rnos a turner's chisel, a carpenter's tool for drawing
     circles; probably akin to E. throw. See Throw, and cf.
     Attorney, Return, Tornado, Tour, Tournament.]
     1. To cause to move upon a center, or as if upon a center; to
        give circular motion to; to cause to revolve; to cause to
        move round, either partially, wholly, or repeatedly; to
        make to change position so as to present other sides in
        given directions; to make to face otherwise; as, to turn a
        wheel or a spindle; to turn the body or the head.
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              Turn the adamantine spindle round.    --Milton.
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              The monarch turns him to his royal guest. --Pope.
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     2. To cause to present a different side uppermost or outmost;
        to make the upper side the lower, or the inside to be the
        outside of; to reverse the position of; as, to turn a box
        or a board; to turn a coat.
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     3. To give another direction, tendency, or inclination to; to
        direct otherwise; to deflect; to incline differently; --
        used both literally and figuratively; as, to turn the eyes
        to the heavens; to turn a horse from the road, or a ship
        from her course; to turn the attention to or from
        something. "Expert when to advance, or stand, or, turn the
        sway of battle." --Milton.
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              Thrice I deluded her, and turned to sport
              Her importunity.                      --Milton.
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              My thoughts are turned on peace.      --Addison.
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     4. To change from a given use or office; to divert, as to
        another purpose or end; to transfer; to use or employ; to
        apply; to devote.
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              Therefore he slew him, and turned the kingdom unto
              David.                                --1 Chron. x.
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              God will make these evils the occasion of a greater
              good, by turning them to advantage in this world.
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              When the passage is open, land will be turned most
              to cattle; when shut, to sheep.       --Sir W.
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     5. To change the form, quality, aspect, or effect of; to
        alter; to metamorphose; to convert; to transform; -- often
        with to or into before the word denoting the effect or
        product of the change; as, to turn a worm into a winged
        insect; to turn green to blue; to turn prose into verse;
        to turn a Whig to a Tory, or a Hindu to a Christian; to
        turn good to evil, and the like.
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              The Lord thy God will turn thy captivity, and have
              compassion upon thee.                 --Deut. xxx.
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              And David said, O Lord, I pray thee, turn the
              counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness. --2 Sam. xv.
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              Impatience turns an ague into a fever. --Jer.
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     6. To form in a lathe; to shape or fashion (anything) by
        applying a cutting tool to it while revolving; as, to turn
        the legs of stools or tables; to turn ivory or metal.
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              I had rather hear a brazen canstick turned. --Shak.
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     7. Hence, to give form to; to shape; to mold; to put in
        proper condition; to adapt. "The poet's pen turns them to
        shapes." --Shak.
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              His limbs how turned, how broad his shoulders spread
              !                                     --Pope.
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              He was perfectly well turned for trade. --Addison.
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     8. Specifically:
        (a) To translate; to construe; as, to turn the Iliad.
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                  Who turns a Persian tale for half a crown.
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        (b) To make acid or sour; to ferment; to curdle, etc.: as,
            to turn cider or wine; electricity turns milk quickly.
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        (c) To sicken; to nauseate; as, an emetic turns one's
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     9. To make a turn about or around (something); to go or pass
        around by turning; as, to turn a corner.
              The ranges are not high or steep, and one can turn a
              kopje instead of cutting or tunneling through it.
                                                    --James Bryce.
     To be turned of, to be advanced beyond; as, to be turned of
     To turn a cold shoulder to, to treat with neglect or
     To turn a corner,
        (a) to go round a corner.
        (b) [Fig.] To advance beyond a difficult stage in a
            project, or in life.
     To turn adrift, to cast off, to cease to care for.
     To turn a flange (Mech.), to form a flange on, as around a
        metal sheet or boiler plate, by stretching, bending, and
        hammering, or rolling the metal.
     To turn against.
        (a) To direct against; as, to turn one's arguments against
        (b) To make unfavorable or hostile to; as, to turn one's
            friends against him.
     To turn a hostile army, To turn the enemy's flank, or the
        like (Mil.), to pass round it, and take a position behind
        it or upon its side.
     To turn a penny, or To turn an honest penny, to make a
        small profit by trade, or the like.
     To turn around one's finger, to have complete control of
        the will and actions of; to be able to influence at
     To turn aside, to avert.
     To turn away.
        (a) To dismiss from service; to discard; as, to turn away
            a servant.
        (b) To avert; as, to turn away wrath or evil.
     To turn back.
        (a) To give back; to return.
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                  We turn not back the silks upon the merchants,
                  When we have soiled them.         --Shak.
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        (b) To cause to return or retrace one's steps; hence, to
            drive away; to repel. --Shak.
     To turn down.
        (a) To fold or double down.
        (b) To turn over so as to conceal the face of; as, to turn
            down cards.
        (c) To lower, or reduce in size, by turning a valve,
            stopcock, or the like; as, turn down the lights.
     To turn in.
        (a) To fold or double under; as, to turn in the edge of
        (b) To direct inwards; as, to turn the toes in when
        (c) To contribute; to deliver up; as, he turned in a large
            amount. [Colloq.]
     To turn in the mind, to revolve, ponder, or meditate upon;
        -- with about, over, etc. " Turn these ideas about in your
        mind." --I. Watts.
     To turn off.
        (a) To dismiss contemptuously; as, to turn off a sycophant
            or a parasite.
        (b) To give over; to reduce.
        (c) To divert; to deflect; as, to turn off the thoughts
            from serious subjects; to turn off a joke.
        (d) To accomplish; to perform, as work.
        (e) (Mech.) To remove, as a surface, by the process of
            turning; to reduce in size by turning.
        (f) To shut off, as a fluid, by means of a valve,
            stopcock, or other device; to stop the passage of; as,
            to turn off the water or the gas.
     To turn one's coat, to change one's uniform or colors; to
        go over to the opposite party.
     To turn one's goods or To turn one's money, and the like,
        to exchange in the course of trade; to keep in lively
        exchange or circulation; to gain or increase in trade.
     To turn one's hand to, to adapt or apply one's self to; to
        engage in.
     To turn out.
        (a) To drive out; to expel; as, to turn a family out of
            doors; to turn a man out of office.
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                  I'll turn you out of my kingdom.  -- Shak.
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        (b) to put to pasture, as cattle or horses.
        (c) To produce, as the result of labor, or any process of
            manufacture; to furnish in a completed state.
        (d) To reverse, as a pocket, bag, etc., so as to bring the
            inside to the outside; hence, to produce.
        (e) To cause to cease, or to put out, by turning a
            stopcock, valve, or the like; as, to turn out the
     To turn over.
        (a) To change or reverse the position of; to overset; to
            overturn; to cause to roll over.
        (b) To transfer; as, to turn over business to another
        (c) To read or examine, as a book, while, turning the
            leaves. "We turned o'er many books together." --Shak.
        (d) To handle in business; to do business to the amount
            of; as, he turns over millions a year. [Colloq.]
     To turn over a new leaf. See under Leaf.
     To turn tail, to run away; to retreat ignominiously.
     To turn the back, to flee; to retreat.
     To turn the back on or
     To turn the back upon, to treat with contempt; to reject or
        refuse unceremoniously.
     To turn the corner, to pass the critical stage; to get by
        the worst point; hence, to begin to improve, or to
     To turn the die or To turn the dice, to change fortune.
     To turn the edge of or To turn the point of, to bend over
        the edge or point of so as to make dull; to blunt.
     To turn the head of or To turn the brain of, to make
        giddy, wild, insane, or the like; to infatuate; to
        overthrow the reason or judgment of; as, a little success
        turned his head.
     To turn the scale or To turn the balance, to change the
        preponderance; to decide or determine something doubtful;
        to tip the balance.
     To turn the stomach of, to nauseate; to sicken.
     To turn the tables, to reverse the chances or conditions of
        success or superiority; to give the advantage to the
        person or side previously at a disadvantage.
     To turn tippet, to make a change. [Obs.] --B. Jonson.
     To turn to profit, To turn to advantage, etc., to make
        profitable or advantageous.
     To turn turtle, to capsize bottom upward; -- said of a
        vessel. [Naut. slang]
     To turn under (Agric.), to put, as soil, manure, etc.,
        underneath from the surface by plowing, digging, or the
     To turn up.
        (a) To turn so as to bring the bottom side on top; as, to
            turn up the trump.
        (b) To bring from beneath to the surface, as in plowing,
            digging, etc.
        (c) To give an upward curve to; to tilt; as, to turn up
            the nose.
     To turn upon, to retort; to throw back; as, to turn the
        arguments of an opponent upon himself.
     To turn upside down, to confuse by putting things awry; to
        throw into disorder.
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              This house is turned upside down since Robin Ostler
              died.                                 --Shak.
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