fish tail

verb (used without object)

  1. to swerve or skid from side to side, as the rear end of a car.
  2. to slow an airplane by causing its tail to move rapidly from side to side.


  1. such a maneuver.
  2. a gas burner having two jets crossing each other so as to produce a flame resembling a fish’s tail.
  3. a device having a long, narrow slot at the top, placed over a gas jet, as of a Bunsen burner, to give a thin, fanlike flame.
  4. Jewelry. a setting consisting of four prominent triangular corner prongs to hold the stone.


  1. a step in ballroom dancing in which the feet are quickly crossed


  1. an aeroplane manoeuvre in which the tail is moved from side to side to reduce speed
  2. a nozzle having a long narrow slot at the top, placed over a Bunsen burner to produce a thin fanlike flame

verb (intr)

  1. to slow an aeroplane by moving the tail from side to side
  2. to drive with the rear of the vehicle moving from side to side in an uncontrolled fashion

1840, from fish (n.) + tail (n.). As a verb, 1927, originally of aircraft, later automobiles. Related: Fishtailed; fishtailing.

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