1. The movable part of the front of a medieval helmet, fitting over the nose and mouth; the upper beaver.
2. A removable flap of mail worn across the mouth and chin.
[Middle English, from Old French vantail, from vent, wind, from Latin ventus; see wē- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.