Definition of swallowtail in US English:



  • 1A large brightly colored butterfly with projections suggestive of a swallow's tail on the hind wings.

    Family Papilionidae: many genera and species, including the pipevine swallowtail (Battus philenor) of southern North America and the eastern tiger swallowtail (Papilio glaucus) of eastern North America

    • ‘After mating, the male tiger swallowtail butterfly deposits a small ‘mating plug’ inside the female to try to prevent her from mating again.’
    • ‘Australian butterflies are from the families of whites, browns, blues and swallowtails, unbelievably sensible names.’
    • ‘They can be as graceful as the swallowtail butterflies drifting by on a summer day.’
    • ‘In summer, swallowtail butterflies drift through the garden, riding the breeze on black or yellow wings.’
    • ‘Furnish your garden with nectar-rich flowering plants, and monarchs, swallowtails, and other winged visitors will drop by regularly, bringing beauty and motion with them.’
    • ‘Examples where intraspecific variation is apparently restricted to degree rather than direction include fruit flies and swallowtail butterflies.’
    • ‘Citrus attracts the swallowtail butterfly, and the larvae resemble bird droppings, but you will want to leave the young alone for the sake of future butterflies.’
    • ‘Create a shallow puddle to attract swallowtails, blues, sulfurs and other butterflies that enjoy drinking at mud puddles.’
    • ‘Dill and fennel are good plants for the caterpillars of the black swallowtail butterfly.’
    • ‘The students also sighted the endangered species of butterflies such as the Southern Birdwing, Malabar branded swallowtail and the Malabar Rose during the camp.’
    • ‘Some studies have shown that monarch larva die when fed Bt pollen, although other studies of swallowtail butterflies show little effect.’
    • ‘An acute awareness of butterflies, which she developed after a brief encounter with a swallowtail in New Mexico, has convinced her that butterflies add a luminous dimension to one's life.’
    • ‘Well, it turned out to be a common tiger swallowtail, but I decided that I wanted to get into collecting, too.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, most fish, birds, and reptiles still have four kinds of cones, and some butterflies, like the Japanese yellow swallowtail, have five.’
    • ‘This species is endemic to the Western Ghats and is considered the rarest and endangered swallowtail.’
    • ‘We photograph a big school of red swallowtails and red snappers that live next to a rocky wall covered with yellow zoanthids.’
    • ‘If you want tiger swallowtail butterflies, plant a willow tree.’
    • ‘The refuge provides shelter and habitat for more than 300 butterfly species, including the zebra longwing, pipevine swallowtail, julia, and Mexican blue wing.’
    • ‘Eyeing a green-banded swallowtail fluttering above him, Samson takes a running leap and with a deft swoop of his net catches the iridescent butterfly.’
    • ‘Today I have a single glossy abelia (Abelia x grandiflora) in my own garden, and it is visited all summer and even throughout early fall by groups of butterflies, particularly the various swallowtails.’
  • 2A deeply forked tail, or a thing resembling such a tail in shape.

    as modifier ‘a black swallowtail coat’
    • ‘They all look slightly ridiculous in their epaulets and tin pot hats and braided swallowtail coats.’
    • ‘I am not going back as far as the days of the corduroy and the swallow-tailed coat but what I remember myself.’
    • ‘In your imagination, they wear top hats, striped trousers and swallowtail coats.’
    • ‘Two military knights, in uniforms of scarlet swallowtail coats with black arm bands, stood in solemn vigil, guarding the Princess's coffin.’