Date: Mon, 29 Jul 1996 13:47:07 -0600
From: Joan Houston Hall jdhall[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]FACSTAFF.WISC.EDU
Subject: Re: tail above the dashboard II
A quick look in the DARE files shows these quotations:
1912 _Dialect Notes_ 3.578 wIN, Head up and tail over the dashboard...In a
lively, spirited manner. "Ever since election day he has been going around
with his head up and tail over the dashboard."
1927 _American Speech_ 2.356 wcWV, Have the tail over the dashboard (verb
phrase), to be in fine physical condition. "The horses have been standing
in the barn for a week. They will have their tails over the dashboard as
soon as we hitch them to the buggy."
1958 McCulloch _Woods Words_ 190 Pacific NW, Tail over the dashboard--A
logger on his way to town for the week end.
1968 Adams _Western Words_ 316, Tail over the dashboard--A cowboy's
description of someone in high spirits.
We also have the following quote with quite a different interpretation:
c1970 _Halpert Collection_ wKY, nwTN, Tail over the dashboard=describing
someone who is miffed. "Oh, she's got her tail over the dashboard about
something." The reference is to a horse and buggy, when the horse wants his
own way about things.
In response to DARE's question A21, "When someone is in too much of a hurry
you might say, Now just slow down! Don't ___________.'" we have the
response "Don't get your tail over the dashboard" from Informants LA14 and
TX5. In this context, the notion seems to be connected to the semantics of
the phrase "hightail it."
Joan Hall, DARE