A dovetail is a joint in woodworking where two sides are fitted together with interlocking pieces. You can also use the word dovetail to show how other things fit well together — like how your picnic plans nicely dovetail with the sunny forecast.

A well-made dovetail is a beautiful thing, with wooden projections that slide into notches perfectly, the two sides forming a corner. When things fit this way, you can say they dovetail — they fit easily and work well together. Your plan to dress up as a Jedi knight dovetails well with your brother's Darth Vader costume, for example. Dovetails got their name from the tail feather-like shape of the joint's pieces.

Definitions of dovetail
  1. noun
    a mortise joint formed by interlocking tenons and mortises
    synonyms: dovetail joint
    see moresee less
    type of:
    mortise joint, mortise-and-tenon joint
    a joint made by inserting tenon on one piece into mortise holes in the other
  2. verb
    fit together tightly, as if by means of a dovetail
    see moresee less
    type of:
    make fit
Word Family

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week


  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week