\ˈtāl \

Definition of tale 

1a : a usually imaginative narrative of an event : story

b : an intentionally untrue report : falsehood always preferred the tale to the truth— Sir Winston Churchill

2a : a series of events or facts told or presented : account

b(1) : a report of a private or confidential matter dead men tell no tales

(2) : a libelous report or piece of gossip

3a : count, tally

b : total

4 obsolete : discourse, talk

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Examples of tale in a Sentence

The movie is a stirring tale of courage. We listened to his familiar tale of woe as he talked again about the failure of his marriage. He told us thrilling tales about his adventures as a pilot in the war. Are you telling tales again? Or is that the truth?
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Recent Examples on the Web

Past all the fearsome isolation of Gilead, there are other principles of cultic systems on full display in Hulu’s dystopian tale. refinery29.com, "The Handmaid’s Tale," 13 July 2018 His ability to weave what reads as a simple tale from such complex historical and familial storylines is impressive. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, "Empress Maria heads juicy Russian cast in historical novel about the Romanovs," 12 July 2018 The court filing is the latest twist in a tale that has threatened the career of Pastner, who is entering his third year as Tech’s head coach. Alan Judd, ajc, "In jailhouse calls, Josh Pastner’s accusers suggest charges fabricated," 6 July 2018 There were also numerous tales of people being rescued. New York Times, "‘Battle Against Time’: Japan Floods Leave Dozens Seeking Rescue," 8 July 2018 Kramer's win was also the fulfillment of a dream the West Valley High 16-year-old has had since hearing tales of her dad Mike's back-to-back top-10 finishes in 2006-07. Matt Tunseth, Anchorage Daily News, "Connelly, Kramer cruise to Mount Marathon junior victories," 4 July 2018 Shea continued to raise the dramatic stakes, narrating a tale of loss and redemption in interviews and onstage, with Joey Chestnut as the sport’s American hero. Alejandro De La Garza, Time, "'I Love Things That Are Absurd.' Meet the Man Who Turned Nathan's Hot Dog-Eating Contest Into a National Obsession," 3 July 2018 First, his First We Feast’s hot wing interview on the webseries Hot Ones was released, featuring tales of the 7-foot-2 all-star eating more than a dozen Nutella sandwiches and terrorizing his teammates playing video games. Ej Smith, Philly.com, "Video: Joel Embiid dunks over Orlando Magic rookie Mo Bamba in a pickup game, welcomes him to the NBA," 28 June 2018 Here’s where Three Identical Strangers veers from a tale of lovely serendipity to one of a deliberate, unethical tampering with people’s lives. refinery29.com, "The Extremely Dark Side To The Buzzy Documentary Three Identical Strangers," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word '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 tale

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for tale

Middle English, from Old English talu; akin to Old Norse tala talk

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Statistics for tale

Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tale

The first known use of tale was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for tale



English Language Learners Definition of tale

: a story about imaginary events : an exciting or dramatic story

: a story about someone's actual experiences

: an exciting story that may not be completely true


\ˈtāl \

Kids Definition of tale

1 : something told He told a tale of woe.

2 : a story about an imaginary event fairy tales

4 : a piece of harmful gossip

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Comments on tale

What made you want to look up tale? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


one that holds something together

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