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From the idea of deliberately trailing one's coat on the ground to entice another to step on it.


coat-trailing (countable and uncountable, plural coat-trailings)

  1. (Britain) A disingenuous act or arrangement intended to provoke a desired response.
    • 1904, Septimus Smet Thorburn, The Punjab in Peace and War, page 348:
      The Peshawar agent will often be an ambitious man "in a hurry," in which case he will push the forward policy, and amongst future Viceroys Aucklands, Lyttons, Lansdownes, and Elgins will be more frequent than Lawrences and Curzons, and then we shall have complications, coat-trailings, warlike movements, perhaps even wars, and they mean, as was the case through the 'nineties, extravagance trans-Indus, and crippling retrenchments or tax enhancements cis-Indus.
    • 1962, Northern Ireland Parliament Senate, Parliamentary Debates. The Senate Official Report, page 504:
      It would still remain a perfectly good Bill without the Clause. Its presence in it is nothing but what I said earlier, namely, a typical example of coat-trailing.
    • 1983, Northern Ireland Assembly, Official Report of Debates - Issue 8, page 118:
      I am not prepared to be involved or drawn into a controversy on the one hand with those who proposed to abolish the name in a coat-trailing political exercise or on the other hand with those who rose to that bait and opposed the decision to try to change the name, equally for reasons of political opportunism and coat-trailing.
    • 2006, Peter Hinchcliffe, John T. Ducker, & Maria Holt, Without Glory in Arabia: The British Retreat from Aden, →ISBN, page 182:
      My own coat-trailing was totally ineffective, but the system of having an obvious road black, with 'cut-offs' behind and down side streets to catch those deliberately avoiding them proved useful.
    • 2016, Barton Whaley, Turnabout and Deception, →ISBN:
      It was an Abwehr tradition for each of its officers to recruit his own agents. British M.I.6, who were responsible for the planting, obviously failed to do their coat-trailing either in the right places or with the right Abwehr officers.