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Aug 30, 2016
This week’s theme
Words related to clothing

This week’s words
top-hat
coattail
hairshirt
stuffed shirt
slyboots

coattail
Image: retrorocket/Shutterstock

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

coattail

PRONUNCIATION:
(KOHT-tayl)

MEANING:
noun:
1. The long back part of a tailcoat that hangs down.
2. The success of another person or organization. Usually used in the idiom “to ride on someone’s coattails” meaning to achieve success by association with someone successful.

ETYMOLOGY:
Often a popular leader of a political party helps attract votes for candidates of the same party for other positions as well. For example, a popular presidential candidate results in more victories for congressional races of the same party. In other words, these other candidates ride on the coattails of the president. This is known as the coattail effect. From Old French cote (coat) + Old English toegl (tail). Earliest documented use: 1600.

USAGE:
“Ted Strickland seems to be counting on riding Clinton’s coattails to victory, rather than mounting his own hard-hitting campaign.”
Deirdre Shesgreen & Jessie Balmert; Portman’s Union Support Raises Fears; Cincinnati Enquirer (Ohio); Jul 27, 2016.

“Observers note that David Duke is re-emerging on the political landscape as he senses an opportunity to ride Trump’s coattails back into the national spotlight.”
Ex-Ku Klux Klan Leader to Run for US Senate; Los Angeles Times; Jul 23, 2016.

See more usage examples of coattail in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
The term 'working mother' is ridiculously redundant. -Donna Reed, actress (1921-1986)

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