old wives' tale


Definition of old wives' tale

: an often traditional belief that is not based on fact : superstition

Examples of old wives' tale in a Sentence

Frogs won't give you warts. That's just an old wives' tale. the old wives' tale about the full moon causing people to act crazy
Recent Examples on the Web An old wives' tale that keeping raw, unpeeled onions out will keep your family safe from illnesses such as the flu is making the rounds on Facebook. Katie Landeck, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Leaving raw onions around your house won’t prevent illnesses," 16 June 2020 The myth, which is partly based on an old wives' tale that claims that every year on the vernal and autumnal equinox, eggs are able to balance on their ends, appears to have surfaced annually since at least 2012. NBC News, "'It's just physics': NASA responds to #Broomstick Challenge," 11 Feb. 2020 The supposed toxicity of this Christmas classic is nothing more than an old wives' tale, Dr. Wismer says. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "5 Holiday Plants That Are Way More Toxic Than Poinsettias to Cats and Dogs," 14 Dec. 2018 Many doctors perceive the use of cod-liver oil for joint pain as an old wives' tale. Houston Chronicle, "Old wives’ remedy helped arthritis pain," 1 July 2018 When to Go to the Doctor Despite the old wives' tale, cranberry juice will not cure your UTI. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "9 Common UTI Symptoms You Should Never Ignore," 12 Feb. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'old wives' tale.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of old wives' tale

1572, in the meaning defined above

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The first known use of old wives' tale was in 1572

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Cite this Entry

“Old wives' tale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/old%20wives%27%20tale. Accessed 18 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for old wives' tale

old wives' tale


English Language Learners Definition of old wives' tale

disapproving : a common belief about something that is not based on facts and that is usually false

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