Definition of dovetail in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈdʌvteɪl/


Image of dovetail
1A joint formed by one or more tapered projections (tenons) on one piece which interlock with corresponding notches or recesses (mortises) in another.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • There are two main types - the mortise and tenon, and the dovetail.
1.1A tenon used in a dovetail joint, typically wider at its extremity.
Example sentences
  • I purposely undersized my dovetail tenons slightly, to make the raising go well.


1 [with object] Join together by means of a dovetail.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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 castings were dovetailed and bolted together, and formed the basis for a four-passenger automobile that weighed just 948 lb.
joint, join, fit together, link, interlock, splice, mortise, tenon
2Fit 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
More example sentences
  • He would not speculate on whether a March end to his radio contract would conveniently dovetail with the start of a national election campaign.
  • Government and Corporate America should work together to ensure that new safeguards dovetail with the workings of a high-productivity economy.
  • 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.
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
informal square
North American informal jibe
archaic quadrate

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: dove|tail

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