Definition of tale in English:


Line breaks: tale
Pronunciation: /teɪl


  • 2 archaic A number or total: an exact tale of the dead bodies
    More example sentences
    • Though, forsooth, little matter was it to any man there whether Turk or Magyar was their over-lord, since to one master or another they had to pay the due tale of labouring days in the year, and hard was the livelihood that they earned for themselves on the days when they worked for themselves and their wives and children.
    • These great and strong lords and knights have come to see what work a man may do without dying: if we are to have yet more days added to our year's tale of lords' labour, then are we lost without remedy.


a tale of a tub

archaic An apocryphal story.

tell tales

Gossip about or reveal another person’s secrets or wrongdoings: she sparked a family row after telling tales about her mother on a TV show
More example sentences
  • Indeed, people love to gossip and to tell tales.
  • Robert and Kitty are deputizing Isaac to sling some mud at the man telling tales on Robert, and stop the story from spreading.


Old English talu 'telling, something told', of Germanic origin; related to Dutch taal 'speech' and German Zahl 'number', also to tell1. sense 2 is probably from Old Norse.

More definitions of tale

Definition of tale in:

Get more from Oxford Dictionaries

Subscribe to remove adverts and access premium resources

Word of the day kerf
Pronunciation: kəːf
a slit made by cutting with a saw