Tailgate is an American English word denoting the door or 'gate' at the back of a wagon, pickup truck, SUV or other similar type of vehicle that is hinged at the bottom and can be opened for the convenience in loading cargo into the rear of the vehicle. A similar vehicular feature, the hatch, hatchback or liftgate, is a door at the back of a vehicle that is hinged at the top and opens upward. In modern usage, the word tailgate may refer to a true tailgate, a hatchback or a lateral opening door (hinged on the left or right side) in the back of a pickup truck, wagon or SUV.

In British English, the tailgate, sometimes called the hatch, is a door on the back of a vehicle that can be moved either up or down, such as on a pickup truck or hatchback.

The verb, to tailgate, refers to the practice of driving closely behind the rear fender of a preceding vehicle. In some municipalities in the United States, this action is illegal and punishable by fine. When not driving, the term also refers to closely following someone, such as through a door or gate, where individual passes maybe required. Such practice is commonly banned as evident in the picture on the right.

The term, tailgate party, refers to the practice of engaging in a social drinking and/or eating event that is based out of the back of one's truck, wagon or SUV. Tailgate parties have become popular in the United States as social gatherings events that take place in stadium parking lots before football games. The use of the tailgate party has spread to the pre-game festivities at sporting events of all kinds (e.g. baseball and soccer) and is also used at non-sporting events such as non-sports-related barbecue gatherings. Tailgates can also be furnished with additional accessories like a "Pocket" for storage purposes etc.

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