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In discussing balloon-ish UI elements, I've described the pointy part as 'points', 'arrows' or 'spikes', and that seems to get the idea across to many people alright... but I find myself falling back on hand gestures to clarify my err... point.

What's the best (or proper?) term/phrase to use to describe this anatomical part?


It appears the consensus is that they are generally referred to as tails.

What I find challenging now is that in contemporary UI's, these 'tails' tend to be much stubbier (and the balloons more rectangular) than their comic-book inspiration (more bunny-tail than cat-tail?). I feel like my days of hand gestures and blithering may not yet be over!

  • The reason why they are more rigid in UIs is that this makes text layout and drawing easier. In your above screenshot, text can be left-aligned and wrapped inside a rectangle. With traditional ellipsoid balloons, you need to center the text, wrap to an ellipsis and draw using bezier paths. Your shape above only needs circle segments and straight lines.
    – uliwitness
    Nov 7, 2013 at 13:35

2 Answers 2


I believe the balloon is technically referred to as a "callout." Most websites I've seen call the pointy part a "tail."



Yeah, Wikipedia calls them tails too: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speech_balloon

  • Ooh, great history. (Kind of embarrassed I hadn't been there yet!) Apr 19, 2011 at 13:31

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