on someone's coattails

coattail

[koht-teyl]
noun
1.
the back of the skirt on a man's coat or jacket.
2.
one of the two back parts of the skirt of a coat, especially one of the tails on a tail coat.
adjective
3.
gained by association with another, especially with a successful or celebrated person: coattail benefits.
Idioms
4.
on someone's coattails, aided by association with another person: The senator rode into office on the president's coattails.
5.
on the coattails of, immediately after or as a result of: His decline in popularity followed on the coattails of the scandal.

Origin:
1590–1600; coat + tail1

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases

on someone's coattails

Also, on the coattails of. Owing to another person's popularity or merits. For example, He won the cabinet post by hanging on the senator's coattails, or He was elected to office on the coattails of the governor. This expression, with its graphic image, dates from the mid-1800s, when coats with tails were in fashion.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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