Tail Wagging the Dog

What Does "Tail Wagging the Dog" Mean?

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"Tail wagging the dog" is an English idiom. It means "a situation where a small or insignificant part of something controls or influences the entire thing; when a less important element dictates the actions or decisions of a more significant entity."

Examples in Sentences

Here are three examples of the idiom "tail wagging the dog" used in a sentence:
  • In their company, it seemed like the marketing department was the tail wagging the dog, as their demands often took precedence over other divisions.
  • He was frustrated by the tail-wagging-the-dog scenario in which one influential shareholder seemed to control the company's direction.
  • The film's producer felt like the director's artistic vision had become secondary to the financial interests of the studio, creating a tail-wagging-the-dog dynamic.
meaning for tail wagging the dog

What Is an Idiom?

An idiom is a commonly used expression whose meaning does not relate to the literal meaning of its words. In other words, if you were to translate "Tail Wagging the Dog" word for word, there is no guarantee the translation would help you to understand the meaning.

An idiom often includes a cultural or historical context that makes it difficult for non-native English speakers to understand. A phrase is classified as an idiom when a direct translation of the words does not reveal the meaning. Most idioms rely on shared knowledge or experiences known only to a specific community.

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