\ 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

And what did the concertgoers do after hearing the two trade tall tales? Elise Schmelzer, The Mercury News, "Dierks Bentley fans rat him out for unlicensed fishing after he brags onstage," 3 Sep. 2019 And what did the Colorado concertgoers do after hearing the two trade tall tales? Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Dierks Bentley ticketed for fishing without a license after concertgoers tip off wildlife officials," 2 Sep. 2019 For a whole century, one local woman has gathered a series of tales and a lifetime of memories. Akira Kyles, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Westminster centenarian shares observations from her century-long life: Be nice to people," 30 Aug. 2019 Will’s tale is related in a kind of Chaucer-lite; in accordance with her reading, Bernadine’s narrative is French-inflected; Thomas is resolutely Latinate. The Economist, "Love in the time of the Black Death," 29 Aug. 2019 Playwright Bob Bartlett puts a contemporary spin on Christopher Marlowe’s tale of the ineffectual King Edward II, who struggles to lead England while navigating a relationship that could result in his monarchy’s downfall. Mary Carole Mccauley, baltimoresun.com, "Top Baltimore arts events for fall 2019," 29 Aug. 2019 There are many tales of horror emanating from The Weinstein Co. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Polaroid': A Near Deal With Netflix Becomes a Legal Horror," 29 Aug. 2019 Cunningham, who owns the West Medford house with Jesus portraits and suspicious magazines, also shared a heartwarming tale. Boston.com Real Estate, "From creepy to cool: Buyers are finding unusual things hidden in their homes," 28 Aug. 2019 Téa Obreht’s new novel Inland—an epic tale of hardbitten folks struggling against the elements in the southwestern United States in the 1890s—invites an odd question: What does the Arabian one-humped camel have to do with Arizona? Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Téa Obreht Considers the Camel," 28 Aug. 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

7 Sep 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).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

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