Definition of tale in English:

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Pronunciation: /teɪl/


1A fictitious or true narrative or story, especially one that is imaginatively recounted: a delightful children’s tale tales of witches and warlocks she enjoyed hearing others tell their tales
More example sentences
  • Mary and Tom Coogan's story is an inspirational tale of a true and deep love that conquered tragedy.
  • Chloe of the Midnight Storytellers will amuse the guests by recounting tales from myth and legend, as well as adaptations of literary short stories.
  • Although the author offers up many intriguing story ingredients and historical tales, she lacks a central driving narrative.
story, short story, narrative, anecdote, report, account, record, history;
legend, fable, myth, romance, parable, allegory, epic, saga
informal yarn
rumour, gossip, hearsay, slander, talk, allegation, tittle-tattle, libel, story
1.1A lie.
Example sentences
  • It was thought that children could not possibly fabricate such tales.
  • Slanderous tales about winners are fabricated by losers.
  • He even published dozens of fabricated tales, often using pseudonyms.
lie, fib, falsehood, story, untruth, fabrication, fiction, piece of fiction
informal tall story, fairy story/tale, cock and bull story, shaggy-dog story, yarn
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.

  • talk from Middle English:

    Talk is from the same root as tale (Old English) and tell. A person who talks incessantly is sometimes said to be able to talk the hind leg off a donkey. Versions of this expression go back to the 19th century but the animal may vary—Cobbett's Weekly Political Register for 1808 has ‘talking a horse's hind leg off’, and in 1879 the novelist Anthony Trollope mentioned talk the hind legs off a dog as an Australian variant. Another way of saying that someone chatters constantly is to accuse them of talking nineteen to the dozen. Presumably the idea is that the person is talking so quickly that they get in 19 words in the time it would take someone else to say a dozen. Nobody seems to know why 19 is the traditional number here, but the phrase has been in this form ever since it was first written down in the late 18th century. The term talking head for a television reporter who is viewed in close-up addressing the camera, is first recorded in the 1960s in the USA. Also American, also from the 1960s, is talk show, a programme in which the presenter talks informally to celebrities.

Words that rhyme with tale

ail, ale, assail, avail, bail, bale, bewail, brail, Braille, chain mail, countervail, curtail, dale, downscale, drail, dwale, entail, exhale, fail, faille, flail, frail, Gael, Gail, gale, Grail, grisaille, hail, hale, impale, jail, kale, mail, male, webmail, nonpareil, outsail, pail, pale, quail, rail, sail, sale, sangrail, scale, shale, snail, stale, swale, tail, they'll, trail, upscale, vail, vale, veil, surveil, wail, wale, whale, Yale

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