Posted by Barney on September 01, 2000
In Reply to: Hightail posted by sauerkraut on September 01, 2000
: : : : I know what 'high-tailing' means, M-W has it as follows:
: : : : ------------
: : : : High*tail (verb intransitive)
: : : : First appeared 1925
: : : : : to move at full speed or rapidly often in making
: : : : a retreat -- usu. used with it
: : : : ----------
: : : : ...but what is the origin for the phrase ?
: : : : Thanks. JJ
: : : I thought it referred to deer. But this says:
: : : "HIGHTAIL -- a slang expression meaning 'to leave in a great hurry,' is a Western expression and was originally used to describe the way a herd of mustangs will break and race away when 'spooked' or frightened by the approach of cowboys." From Morris Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins by William and Mary Morris (HarperCollins, New York, 1977, 1988).
: : May also have something to do with the fact that tails are raised when in flight
: I hate to disagree with such authorities as the Morrises, but I am convinced that the phrase originated with the white tail deer, whose short, sturdy tails are white on the underside, and raised high when fleeing as a danger sign to other deer in the area. The phrase may have migrated West with the pioneers, who were certainly acquainted with the behavior of the white tails they knew in the Eastern states. If any reader has had the privilege of seeing a deer leave in a hurry, they'll know what I'm talking about.