\ 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


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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 The colorful and hyper-competitive tale of the early city’s volunteer fire companies will be the subject of the next Portals. Gary Kamiya, San Francisco Chronicle, "When San Francisco burned down - six times in a year and a half," 16 Apr. 2021 What if a tale of 17th century warfare and British derring-do was also a drug-trip flick? David Fear, Rolling Stone, "‘In the Earth’: Ben Wheatley’s Pandemic-Psychedelic Horrorshow," 16 Apr. 2021 The tale of the two Busches is in some sense the story of the Catholic Church in the United States today. Katherine Stewart, The New Republic, "How Big Money Is Dividing American Catholicism," 9 Mar. 2021 This tale of two cities (Dallas and New York) is part of a bigger picture. Scott Mcmurren, Anchorage Daily News, "Pandemic-hit airlines are digging into the ‘fare war’ playbook with deals for Alaska travelers," 6 Mar. 2021 For some Ohio Democrats the cautionary tale is 2018, when a group of female gubernatorial candidates all ceded their ambitions to former Obama administration consumer chief Richard Cordray, who lost the race. Julie Carr Smyth, Star Tribune, "In Ohio, open Senate seat sparks debate on gender, diversity," 2 Feb. 2021 The tale that Horvát has to tell is elliptical, inward, and unrushed, played out on the smallest of scales. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“MLK/FBI” Forbids Us to Relax," 15 Jan. 2021 The tale of Gary Gensler’s transformation has always been remarkable. Benjamin Bain, Bloomberg.com, "From Goldman to SEC: Gensler’s Next Stop Worries Wall Street," 14 Jan. 2021 Okay, so that’s still shooting for the moon, but a tale of that kind is what a Star Wars open world game deserves. Washington Post, "What we want from Ubisoft Massive’s open world Star Wars game," 13 Jan. 2021

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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Time Traveler for tale

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tale

Last Updated

26 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tale. Accessed 7 May. 2021.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for tale

Nglish: Translation of tale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tale for Arabic Speakers

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