Definition of Turn tail

1. Verb. Flee; take to one's heels; cut and run. "The burglars escaped before the police showed up"

Exact synonyms: Break Away, Bunk, Escape, Fly The Coop, Head For The Hills, Hightail It, Lam, Run, Run Away, Scarper, Scat, Take To The Woods
Generic synonyms: Go Away, Go Forth, Leave
Specialized synonyms: Flee, Fly, Take Flight, Skedaddle
Derivative terms: Lam, Runaway

Definition of Turn tail

1. Verb. (idiomatic) To turn away from someone or something, in preparation for running away; to reverse direction; to leave or flee. ¹

¹ Source:

Lexicographical Neighbors of Turn Tail

turn on a dime
turn on its head
turn on one's heel
turn one's back
turn one's nose up
turn one's stomach
turn out
turn over
turn over a new leaf
turn round
turn signal
turn someone's crank
turn someone's head
turn tail (current term)
turn the air blue
turn the corner
turn the frown upside down
turn the other cheek
turn the page
turn the table
turn the tables
turn the tide
turn thumbs down
turn to
turn to custard
turn to dust
turn turtle

Literary usage of Turn tail

Below you will find example usage of this term as found in modern and/or classical literature:

1. A Dictionary of the English Language: In which the Words are Deduced from Samuel Johnson by Samuel Johnson (1805)
"To turn TAIL. To fly ; to run away. To TAIL. o>. n. To pull by the tail. ... First Trulla stav'd, and Cerdon tait'J. Would she turn tail to the heron, ..."

2. A Descriptive Dictionary of British Malaya by Nicholas Belfield Dennys (1894)
"Indian congener, which is alleged to successfully hold its own against the elephant, will turn tail before a wild dog. There are many varieties of " black," ..."

3. Letters from Head-quarters: Or, The Realities of the War in the Crimea by Somerset John Gough Calthorpe (1856)
"... Canrobert — Flight of the Turks — Capture of redoubts by the enemy — "Ship, Johnny, ship" — 93rd regiment — Russian cavalry turn tail — Charge of heavy ..."

4. The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D: Including A Journal of His Tour to the by James Boswell, John Wilson Croker (1846)
"To-day Mrs. Williams and Mrs. Des- moulins had a scold, and Willams was going away; hut I bid her not turn tail, and she came back, and rather got the upper ..."

5. Noctes Ambrosianæ by John Wilson, Robert Shelton Mackenzie, James Hogg, William Maginn, John Gibson Lockhart (1856)
"... very bad whet,— And the Knights of the Shell turn tail 1 On a tombstone, awaiting the day, When the rest of the ghosts, and the owl, and the bat, ..."

6. Comic Tales and Lyrical Fancies: Including The Chessiad, a Mock -heroic, in by Charles Dibdin (1825)
"... So, with envy and rage though I burn, On the brush I 'll affect to turn tail, Who haven'ta tail to turn." The fox, bent to brazen it out, " Joy wish me, ..."

7. Wild Scenes in the Forest and Prairie, Or, The Romance of Natural History by Charles Wilkins Webber (1855)
"... and was raising his spear to strike, before the astonished animal had concluded to turn tail, which, when it did, it waddled off with great speed. ..."

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