black swallowtail


  1. See under swallowtail(def 2).


  1. the tail of a swallow or a deeply forked tail like that of a swallow.
  2. any of several butterflies of the genus Papilio, characterized by elongated hind wings that resemble the tail of a swallow, as P. polyxenes (black swallowtail).Compare spicebush swallowtail, tiger swallowtail, zebra swallowtail.
  3. tail coat.


  1. any of various butterflies of the genus Papilio and related genera, esp P. machaon of Europe, having a tail-like extension of each hind wing: family Papilionidae
  2. the forked tail of a swallow or similar bird
  3. short for swallow-tailed coat

1540s, of a type of arrowhead, from swallow (n.) + tail (n.). Of a type of butterfly, by 1776; of a type of coat, 1835.

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