\ 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 For those of us who have closely watched the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for years the tale hardly comes as a surprise. WSJ, "Don’t Count on the NLRB’s Sense of Humor," 12 May 2020 The next release, due in less than two weeks, will probably tell an even gloomier tale. Dara Doyle, Bloomberg.com, "Europe Recession Inevitable as Last Line of Defense Crumbles," 12 May 2020 No other artistic work in the last decade has had the cultural impact of Hamilton—an inspiring and captivating tale told and performed in a powerfully creative way. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Hamilton is coming to Disney+ a year early—just in time for Fourth of July," 12 May 2020 But data from an unreleased White House task force report tells a different tale. NBC News, "Trump falsely claims coronavirus numbers 'going down,' Elon Musk defies orders and a 46,000-year-old tooth," 12 May 2020 These are only a smattering of the tales that can actually be documented. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "The legend behind ‘Bull Durham’: Steve Dalkowski’s unfathomable gift was a compliment and a curse," 9 May 2020 To mark #VEDay75 our Historian Tony Comer tells an untold tale from our archives. Fox News, "United Kingdom reveals last decoded Nazi message to mark VE Day," 8 May 2020 Around the country, countless other parents are gratefully sharing similar stories, tales highlighting some of the many ways educators are working to support kids and families through the pandemic. Lorraine Allen, Good Housekeeping, "Teachers Are the Glue Keeping Many Families Together During the Coronavirus Pandemic," 4 May 2020 In the old tales, the godmother was not a giggling witch, but the guardian and guide to your transformation. Sam Whiting, SFChronicle.com, "Eavan Boland, Irish poet and Stanford professor, dies in her native Dublin," 3 May 2020

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

17 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tale. Accessed 28 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for tale


How to pronounce tale (audio)

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

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with tale

Spanish Central: Translation of tale

Nglish: Translation of tale for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tale for Arabic Speakers

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