also pig-tail, 1680s, "tobacco in a twisted roll," from pig (n.1) + tail (n.). So called from resemblance. Meaning "braid of hair hanging down the back of the head" is from 1753, when it was a fashion in polite society; the style was preserved into early 19c. by soldiers and sailors. Since applied variously to other objects or parts thought to resemble this in appearance. Related: Pigtailed.
Entries linking to pigtail
Middle English pigge "a young pig" (mid-13c., late 12c. as a surname), probably from Old English *picg, found in compounds, but, like dog, its further etymology unknown. The older general word for adults was swine, if female, sow, if male, boar. Apparently related to Low German bigge, Dutch big ("but the phonology is difficult" -- OED).
By early 14c. pig was used of a swine or hog regardless of age or sex. Applied to persons, usually in contempt, since 1540s; the derogatory meaning "police officer" has been in underworld slang at least since 1811.
The pigs frisked my panney, and nailed my screws; the officers searched my house, and seized my picklock keys. ["Dictionary of Buckish Slang, University Wit and Pickpocket Eloquence," London, 1811]
Another Old English word for the animal was fearh, which is related to furh "furrow," from PIE *perk- "dig, furrow" (source also of Latin porcus "pig," see pork). "This reflects a widespread IE tendency to name animals from typical attributes or activities" [Lass].
Synonyms grunter, porker are from sailors' and fishermen's euphemistic avoidance of uttering the word pig at sea, a superstition perhaps based on the fate of the Gadarene swine, who drowned. The image of a pig in a poke is attested from late 14c. (see poke (n.1)). Flying pigs as a type of something unreal is from 1610s.
"hindmost part of an animal," Old English tægl, tægel "a tail," from Proto-Germanic *tagla- (source also of Old High German zagal, German Zagel "tail," dialectal German Zagel "penis," Old Norse tagl "horse's tail," Gothic tagl "hair"), from PIE *doklos, from suffixed form of root *dek- (2) "something long and thin" (referring to such things as fringe, lock of hair, horsetail; source also of Old Irish dual "lock of hair," Sanskrit dasah "fringe, wick").
According to OED, the primary sense, at least in Germanic, seems to have been "hairy tail," or just "tuft of hair," but already in Old English the word was applied to the hairless "tails" of worms, bees, etc. But Buck writes that the common notion is of "long, slender shape." As an adjective from 1670s.
Meaning "reverse side of a coin" (opposite the side with the head) is from 1680s; that of "backside of a person, buttocks" is recorded from c. 1300; slang sense of "pudenda" is from mid-14c.; that of "woman as sex object" is from 1933, earlier "act of copulation" with a prostitute (1846). Of descending strokes of letters, from 1590s.
Tails "coat with tails" is from 1857. The tail-race (1776) is the part of a mill race below the wheel. To turn tail "take flight" (1580s) originally was a term in falconry. The image of the tail wagging the dog is attested from 1907. Another Old English word for "tail" was steort (see stark).