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Impoverished; mean; paltry: My brother and I had a pretty shirttail existence as kids (1929+)noun
An editorial column: The boss blurbed the story in his shirttail (1944+ Newspaper office)
[both senses depend on the shirttail being a short appendage to a shirt; the first sense derives fr the shortness, hence meagerness; the second fr the appendedness, the editor's personal addition]