\ ˈtāl How to pronounce tale (audio) \

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

Synonyms for tale


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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?
Recent Examples on the Web To illustrate why diversity in clinical trials is critical, the report’s authors cited the blood clot inhibitor warfarin as a cautionary tale. Usha Lee Mcfarling, STAT, 19 May 2022 Peloton provides a cautionary tale of how public perception can pivot quickly and dramatically. Jean Serra, Forbes, 18 May 2022 Even though the book was intended as a cautionary tale, Blair took it literally. Wendy Kaur, ELLE, 18 May 2022 Experts said India’s last wheat crisis in 2005 served as a cautionary tale. Niha Masih, Washington Post, 14 May 2022 The conference venue is playing an important role in the proceedings, with local policymakers, academics and community leaders sharing how Miami Beach is both a cautionary tale about the impacts of climate change and a model for the way forward. Denise Chow, NBC News, 12 May 2022 One of the last of the legendary Cannes parties is also a cautionary tale. Alex Ritman, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 May 2022 Yalta, however, offers a cautionary tale of its own. Ned Temko, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 May 2022 As in the comics, The Illuminati seem to exist as a cautionary tale against unelected elites secretly making momentous decisions for everyone (see the World Security Council, et al). Michael Ordoña, Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2022 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for tale

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near tale

talcum powder



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Statistics for tale

Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tale. Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for tale


\ ˈtāl How to pronounce tale (audio) \

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

More from Merriam-Webster on tale

Nglish: Translation of tale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tale for Arabic Speakers


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