Definition of fishtail in US English:



  • 1usually as modifier An object that is forked like a fish's tail.

    ‘carved detail including fishtail terminals on the banisters’
    • ‘She wore a lavish lilac fishtail dress made especially for the occasion by her mum.’
    • ‘For furniture that goes with this lamp why not try to match it up with the black burnt oil and waxed patina ‘French Scroll Table’ with legs forged in 20 mm square stock with classic fishtail scrolls.’
    • ‘Other notable features are the skirted mudguards and the fishtail exhaust box.’
    • ‘The peoples of the far south used fishtail points with expanded stems, and the forest and coastal peoples used triangular points, often with tapered stems.’
    • ‘Many of the dresses feature sheer overlays and striking asymmetric and fishtail hems, with matching shawls included in the price.’
    1. 1.1 An uncontrolled sideways movement of the back of a motor vehicle.
      ‘he hit the brakes, sending the car into a fishtail that carried him across the street’
      • ‘It went into a dangerous fishtail, taking him much too close to the edge of the road.’
      • ‘The rear tires aren't sticking enough, meaning a fishtail is likely.’
      • ‘With a bit of a fishtail I'm stomping the pedals to accelerate again.’
      • ‘The left front tire blew, sending the car into a violent fishtail.’
      • ‘I kept my foot on the gas, rode out the fishtails, and finally reached a dry spot where I thought I could turn around.’


  • no object, usually with adverbial of direction (of a vehicle) make a fishtail movement.

    ‘the vehicle fishtailed from one side of the road to the other’
    • ‘Suddenly, I lost control of the vehicle as it fishtailed all over the street, then the vehicle stopped.’
    • ‘According to a police spokesman, the driver lost control of the vehicle after his tar-laden trailer began fishtailing.’
    • ‘It fishtailed wildly before crashing into a light post and coming to a complete stop.’
    • ‘The road is extremely slippery after rain and people fishtail all over it and if it doesn't rain the corrugations rattle your car apart.’
    • ‘The convertible fishtailed, squealing, and ended up halfway off the road.’