One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1The tail coverts of a peacock collectively, which the bird is able to erect and expand like a fan behind its body..
2Alchemy. An iridescent or multicoloured stage in the preparation of the philosopher's stone. Now historical.
3The seaweed Padina pavonia, which has broadly fan-shaped fronds marked with fringed bands in shades of brown and green.
Early 16th century. From the genitive of peacock + tail. In β form from peacock + tail.
peacock's tail/ˌpiːkɒks ˈteɪl/
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