Definition of the tail wags the dog in US English:

the tail wags the dog

phrase

  • The less important or subsidiary factor, person, or thing dominates a situation; the usual roles are reversed.

    ‘the financing system is becoming the tail that wags the dog’
    • ‘But, they persist, peddling garbage, contradicting themselves in public (as in the example I posted), asserting the illogical (e.g. that the tail wags the dog) without evidentiary support from real sources, etc.’
    • ‘Borges talks about not being able to tell whether the tail wags the dog or the dog wags the tail in his own writing of poetry and stories.’
    • ‘Even asking whether The Superstar Effect or TLT will win in a fight is like asking whether the dog wags the tail or the tail wags the dog.’
    • ‘When ‘the truth’ becomes irrelevant, and perception is all that matters, then the tail wags the dog, and (as you know) that ain't quite right.’
    • ‘But he says that the conclusion as to whether the tail wags the dog or the reverse may be less straightforward.’
    • ‘This tail wags the dog, dominates university life for students and staff.’
    • ‘He must have gained a profound understanding of that old saw ‘when the tail wags the dog’ in his role as program manager for the project.’
    • ‘How frightening it is when the tail wags the dog.’
    • ‘The goal of developing the economy has yielded to the states looking to simply alleviate their budget concerns; the tail wags the dog.’
    • ‘What are some of the most common ways in which the tail wags the dog in financial aid?’