With one’s tail between one’s legs

With one’s tail between one’s legs is an idiom that takes its inspiration from the animal kingdom. We will examine the meaning of the idiom with one’s tail between one’s legs, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.

Someone with his tail between his legs is someone who is chastised, someone who is ashamed of his actions or embarrassed by the reprimand he has received. Someone with his tail between his legs feels defeated. The expression is sometimes rendered as with one’s tail tucked between one’s legs. The phrase with one’s tail between one’s legs has been in use for hundreds of years. Though the exact origin is unknown, most experts believe it is an obvious reference to the behavior of a dog that has been scolded or simply knows that he has done something wrong. A dog who has been chastised or is in trouble in some way will tuck his tail between his legs to protect his physical vulnerability.

Examples

No one knows exactly how long, but he came back with his tail between his legs having failed to be a writer and he tried again to go into comedy and play the working men’s clubs. (The Daily Mail)

Then Colby comes crawling back to Dean with his tail between his legs and apologises for not being there while Jai was in hospital. (The West Australian)

“I was that fourth grader, that brown child that walked away from there with his tail tucked between his legs,” Vásquez says. (The San Antonio Current)