\ 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

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Synonyms for tale


canard, story, whisper

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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

Casablanca Outdoor screening of the classic 1942 tale of WWII-era romance and intrigue starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Matt Cooper, latimes.com, "SoCal movie events & revivals, July 7-14: ‘Double Indemnity,’ ‘Star Wars’ and more," 7 July 2019 The source of an equally intriguing tale was discovered beneath the dark-brown patina partly covering a statue of a dancing satyr (pictured) pulled by fishermen from the waters between Sicily and Africa in 1998. The Economist, "Buried metal artefacts gather stories on their surfaces," 4 July 2019 The pictures and footage only scratch the surface of the tale: wide smiles, and the tears of joy of a mother and her son, reunited after six years. Fox News, "South African woman reunited with son six years after he disappeared and was tracked down 1,000 miles away," 3 July 2019 Blomkamp also revealed on Twitter that progress is being made on the script of the new RoboCop film and that the movie would channel the vision of Verhoeven’s sci-fi tale. Clark Collis, EW.com, "Robocop Returns will feature same suit as original film," 30 June 2019 As Disney preps its live action version of the undersea tale, there's a lot of buzz about the cast. Justin Kroll, chicagotribune.com, "Melissa McCarthy in talks to play Ursula in live-action ‘Little Mermaid’," 28 June 2019 Of course, there are plenty of cautionary tales of investments in comparatively illiquid currencies that went wrong. Ira Iosebashvili, WSJ, "Investors Dodge Global Worries in Currencies of Egypt, Ukraine," 20 June 2019 There are lots of tales of terrible things that have happened to archival assets across the entertainment industry over the decades, and people love to tell them. Steve Knopper, Billboard, "Universal Music Group Archivist: Vault Fire Damage 'Surprisingly Overstated,' But Any Loss Is 'Painful for Us'," 17 June 2019 There are echoes here across the whole of Sacks’s voluminous oeuvre—tales differently told, glancing allusions to people encountered elsewhere, fragments of autobiography. Simon Callow, The New York Review of Books, "Truth, Beauty, and Oliver Sacks," 6 June 2019

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

13 Jul 2019

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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on tale

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tale

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tale

Spanish Central: Translation of tale

Nglish: Translation of tale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tale for Arabic Speakers

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).


characterized by aphorism

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