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tail·gate / ˈtālˌgāt/ • n. a hinged flap at the back of a truck that can be lowered or removed when loading or unloading the vehicle. ∎  the door at the back of a station wagon. ∎  [as adj.] relating to or denoting an informal meal served from the back of a parked vehicle, typically in the parking lot of a sports stadium: a tailgate lunch they turned the parking lot into a huge tailgate party. ∎  [as adj.] denoting a style of jazz trombone playing characterized by improvisation in the manner of the early New Orleans musicians. • v. inf. 1. [tr.] drive too closely behind another vehicle: he started tailgating the car in front | [intr.] drivers who will tailgate at 90 mph. ∎  (of a person or vehicle) gain unauthorized entry to a secured area by closely following someone with authority to enter: a Toyota pickup that tailgated the delivery vehicle into the prison three boys tailgated a group of tourists into the theater. 2. [intr.] eat a meal served from the back of a parked vehicle: Lot 16E is reserved for alumni who wish to tailgate before the game. DERIVATIVES: tail·gat·er n.