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Hightail

  • Hightail is an American idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the idiom hightail, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.


     

    Hightail is a verb that means to move away in a rapid fashion, to leave quickly, to make a speedy retreat. Related words are hightails, hightailed, hightailing. The idiom hightail is an American expression and came into use in the 1890s. The term hightail invokes an image of an animal’s tail rising as it flees. In particular, the American white-tailed deer is well known for its habit of raising its tail when fleeing, exposing the white underside of its tail along with its white rump.

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    Examples

    They say “annexation” and look around, like somebody who hit a parked car and plans to hightail out of there. (Haaretz)

    Do you cover your face with the crook of your elbow and hightail it out of there? (The Colorado Springs Gazette)

    Initially accepting a job offer from Google Life Science (now Verily), he has since hightailed it yet again, to a start-up ominously called Mindstrong. (Psychiatric Times Magazine)


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