Definition of dovetail in US English:


(also dovetail joint)


  • 1A joint formed by one or more tapered projections (tenons) on one piece which interlock with corresponding notches or recesses (mortises) in another.

    • ‘The router is used to cut contours in wood for edgings and moldings or for more complex relief panels and inlay work, dovetails, and mortises.’
    • ‘He favors mortise-and-tenon joinery for his casework, frame-and-panel door construction, and dovetails at the front and back of each drawer.’
    • ‘We might get kindergarten teachers capable of shaping a decent dovetail joint, which the Billabong's carpenter cannot manage.’
    • ‘The joints would all be familiar to a carpenter - mortise and tenons, dovetails and wedges - but this was the traditional way in which iron structures were joined at the time.’
    • ‘Wood drawers with dovetail joints, which are standard with Kraftmaid, are stronger than the particleboard drawers with stapled joints that are standard on lower-priced stock cabinets.’
    • ‘Cabinets with solid wood and dovetails are beautiful, if pricey, and with a good clear seal, they're just as cleanable as any synthetic, she says.’
    • ‘At first glance the introduction of lapped dovetails for veneered furniture is curious because it entails more work for no perceptible advantage.’
    • ‘The front sight sat up out of its dovetail notch with light visible between it and the slide.’
    • ‘The dovetails at both front and back of the new drawers have to match the original joints.’
    • ‘On the Remington, a dovetail was cut forward of the cylinder on the frame.’
    • ‘It too uses a standard dovetail and it's a single piece of CNC metal.’
    • ‘The barrel is heavily tapered to further reduce weight and is fitted with a dovetail front sight set in an integral base.’
    • ‘This idea, of course, didn't last because the tip of the screwdriver broke at the dovetail.’
    • ‘There are two main types - the mortise and tenon, and the dovetail.’
    • ‘When used with specially designed jigs, fixed-base routers are great for cutting dovetails.’
    • ‘These include drawers with dovetails, chest sides rabbeted to receive front drawer supports, and the use of significantly thinner stock for drawer sides and bottoms.’
    • ‘A notch in the rear dovetail provides additional security against ring movement.’
    1. 1.1 A tenon used in a dovetail joint, typically wider at its extremity.
      • ‘I purposely undersized my dovetail tenons slightly, to make the raising go well.’


[with object]
  • 1Join together by means of a dovetail.

    • ‘On Ruger's rimfire guns, however, the front sight is simply dovetailed in place, so it would require a visit to Brownell's catalog to find a compatible replacement.’
    • ‘Front sights were dovetailed into the barrel and were mostly simple silver blades.’
    • ‘The front sight - with green tritium dot and well rounded at the front to prevent snagging - is securely dovetailed into the slide.’
    • ‘The rear sight is a square notch on an elevator ladder, while the front sight, which is dovetailed into the barrel, has a gold bead.’
    • ‘The backside is undercut and serrated to prevent glare and is dovetailed into the slide with a set-screw for windage adjustments.’
    • ‘The receiver is dovetailed to accept the excellent SAKO type scope rings, but is also drilled and tapped to permit the use of conventional bases and rings.’
    • ‘The flats on the front receiver ring and rear bridge are both dovetailed for Legacy's factory rings as well as being drilled and tapped for a variety of base and ring configurations.’
    • ‘The thicker blades were dovetailed into the case walls, tying them immovably together.’
    • ‘Sights are dovetailed front and rear, making for easy replacement.’
    • ‘The front sight is dovetailed in place and regulated well.’
    • ‘The front ring is dovetailed and is designed to twist into the socket of the base providing a rock solid perch for your optics.’
    • ‘The castings were dovetailed and bolted together, and formed the basis for a four-passenger automobile that weighed just 948 lb.’
    • ‘But within the regular outline, it is divided obliquely into two irregularly shaped parts of unequal size that descending in height towards the centre are dovetailed together.’
    • ‘The scales - offered in a variety of synthetic and natural materials - are dovetailed into the bolsters, protecting them from the forces of stress or shear.’
    • ‘He explained his enthusiasm for bees, from a small child of eight years old and his stories of his family especially of his father, who made bee hives which were dovetailed and not nailed together.’
    • ‘The two pieces are actually dovetailed together and glued.’
    • ‘All of the joints are dovetailed and the compartments are curved and fitted perfectly.’
    • ‘The rear sights are dovetailed to allow for windage adjustments.’
    • ‘These partitions are dovetailed to the floors of the tiers of side drawers, and those floors are in turn dadoed to the case sides and supported by heavy glue blocks.’
    • ‘The most common sugar box is a dovetailed or post-and-paneled box on legs with a drawer, not unlike the earlier case and bottles used for liquor storage.’
    joint, join, fit together, link, interlock, splice, mortise, tenon
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Fit or cause to fit together easily and conveniently.
      with object ‘plan to enable parents to dovetail their career and family commitments’
      no object ‘flights that dovetail with the working day’
      • ‘Many public and private institutions that offer defined-benefit pension plans to their employees have designed their programs to dovetail with Social Security benefits under prior legislation.’
      • ‘The findings dovetail with on-going research into mechanisms we employ to boost our self-esteem, particularly in an environment where job insecurity, secularism and changing roles tend to chip away at it.’
      • ‘Though campaign Web sites may no longer be trophy innovations, they have become necessities to dovetail with your campaign's other strategic components.’
      • ‘Mysteries have been replaced with conspiracies, complex, all-embracing structures that nicely dovetail with the internet's global reach.’
      • ‘Part of that organization was a husband who was prepared to work shifts that would dovetail with hers.’
      • ‘Planting a pack of seeds could dovetail with a lesson on patience.’
      • ‘They also dovetail with data on continuities among elites across the revolutionary and post-revolutionary eras.’
      • ‘Sometimes it may dovetail with what's good for the economy, but the economic decisions don't come from the economic team.’
      • ‘Government and Corporate America should work together to ensure that new safeguards dovetail with the workings of a high-productivity economy.’
      • ‘He would not speculate on whether a March end to his radio contract would conveniently dovetail with the start of a national election campaign.’
      • ‘Next week it will be bank holiday and we shall be selling as normal but starting cattle half an hour later to dovetail with York.’
      • ‘It should be noted, though, that the preponderant location of media in southwest Nigeria does not dovetail with ownership patterns.’
      • ‘But, in this case, it is plausible to argue that the Wapping papers have illustrated a healthy journalistic scepticism that just happens to dovetail with their owner's beliefs.’
      • ‘It will also be engineered to dovetail with Microsoft's ‘Palladium’ controlled-computing scheme, according to a report from the Associated Press.’
      • ‘Listening and communication skills must dovetail with other skills.’
      • ‘What's your opinion on that, and how does that dovetail with anything you're trying to do?’
      • ‘If the proposal was approved, he said construction would take 3-4 months and would be completed to dovetail with the expansion of Lismore Square.’
      • ‘Such attitudes are common in the prosperous coastal regions and actually dovetail with the government's wish that the population would concentrate its efforts on economic development, as opposed to political reform.’
      • ‘I hope some of the measurements I make will not only assist those looking for the patchy microbe oases, but will also dovetail with my Mars surface research.’
      • ‘If we can dovetail with a developer it will be win, win all the way.’
      fit in, go together, be consistent, agree, accord, concur, coincide, match, fit, be in agreement, conform, equate, harmonize, fall in, be in tune, correlate, correspond, tally
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