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horsetail

[hawrs-teyl] /ˈhɔrsˌteɪl/
noun
1.
Also called scouring rush. any nonflowering plant of the genus Equisetum, having hollow, jointed stems.
2.
a horse's tail formerly used as a Turkish military standard or as an ensign of a pasha, the number of tails increasing with the rank.
Origin of horsetail
1350-1400
1350-1400; Middle English horse tayle. See horse, tail1
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for horsetail
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I have reason to believe that these two horsetail thieves are taking shelter with some charcoal burners over near the river.

  • We have examples of the last-named class in the ferns, lycopods and horsetail plants.

    The Story of the Cotton Plant Frederick Wilkinson
  • It is named for the abundance of horsetail (Equisitum) found there.

    California Athabascan Groups Martin A. Baumhoff
  • He was only human, and you must forgive him if he told of his adventure with the horsetail thieves.

  • The real leaves of the horsetail are much reduced in size, and take very little part in the work of nutrition.

    How to Know the Ferns S. Leonard Bastin
  • Mike's Head is probably a popular name for the rush of the Equisetum species, known as "horsetail."

  • A great comet streamed through the sky "like a horsetail," and it was well known that that meant pestilence or war.

    Bacon's Rebellion, 1676 Thomas Jefferson Wertenbaker
  • One interesting point in connection with the cultivation of horsetail spores has been brought to light.

    How to Know the Ferns S. Leonard Bastin
  • Another common type of Pennsylvanian vegetation was the so-called “horsetail” plant or giant rush.

    Geology William J. Miller
British Dictionary definitions for horsetail

horsetail

/ˈhɔːsˌteɪl/
noun
1.
any tracheophyte plant of the genus Equisetum, having jointed stems with whorls of small dark toothlike leaves and producing spores within conelike structures at the tips of the stems: phylum Sphenophyta
2.
a stylized horse's tail formerly used as the emblem of a pasha, the number of tails increasing with rank
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for horsetail
n.

c.1400, from horse (n.) + tail (n.). As a kind of plant, from 1530s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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horsetail in Science
horsetail
  (hôrs'tāl')   
A member of a genus, Equisetum, of seedless vascular plants having a jointed hollow stem and narrow, sometimes much reduced leaves. Plants extremely similar to modern horsetails are known from fossils 300 million years old. The horsetails are the last surviving members of the phylum Sphenophyta, which dominated the forests of the Devonian and Carboniferous periods.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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