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[swol-oh-teyl] /ˈswɒl oʊˌteɪl/
the tail of a swallow or a deeply forked tail like that of a swallow.
any of several butterflies of the genus Papilio, characterized by elongated hind wings that resemble the tail of a swallow, as P. polyxenes (black swallowtail)
Origin of swallowtail
1535-45; swallow2 + tail1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for swallowtail
Historical Examples
  • The sight of one swallowtail butterfly, a big black and yellow fellow, sent the cook insane.

    The Sea and the Jungle H. M. Tomlinson
  • Old swallowtail reached the stone-yard and climbed the fence.

    Mary Louise in the Country L. Frank Baum (AKA Edith Van Dyne)
  • We calculate to do it, only we want you to go as slow on swallowtail coats as possible till we can sell our hay.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • The Red Star line followed in 1821, and soon after the swallowtail line.

    Fifth Avenue Arthur Bartlett Maurice
  • I aint in a swallowtail coat, but every one knows me, and they know that Ive been up in the roof tryin to stop a leak.

  • To the left at one tip of the crescent the flash of swallowtail Light glowed and died like the fire in a gigantic cigarette.

    The Harbor of Doubt Frank Williams
  • One, called the swallowtail, may often be found hiding among ivy in July.

  • They are all getting good pay, so they sent to the States for swallowtail suits an they started.

  • Once swallowtail was passed the voyage had begun, and the lead belonged to any one who could take it.

    The Harbor of Doubt Frank Williams
  • He was past the middle age, somewhat scrupulously dressed in the old fashion, in swallowtail coat and black stock.

    The Crisis, Complete Winston Churchill
British Dictionary definitions for swallowtail


any of various butterflies of the genus Papilio and related genera, esp P. machaon of Europe, having a tail-like extension of each hind wing: family Papilionidae
the forked tail of a swallow or similar bird
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 swallowtail

1540s, of a type of arrowhead, from swallow (n.) + tail (n.). Of a type of butterfly, by 1776; of a type of coat, 1835.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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