\ 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 While not the literal biggest of the brown bears at Alaska’s Katmai National Park, Otis captured the hearts of fans with his #TransformationTuesday results made possible by his tale of overcoming obstacles this season. Natalie B. Compton, Anchorage Daily News, 6 Oct. 2021 Our tale begins with a robot who bears the name of real-life writer César Aira. Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2021 Once again working with his regular Toni Servillo, as well as Filippo Scotti, cast as his young alter ego and awarded the Marcello Mastroianni Award in Venice, Sorrentino opted for a much simpler style for his autobiographical tale. Marta Balaga, Variety, 1 Oct. 2021 Precious and its tale of a New York City teen who enrolls in an alternative school amid ongoing abuse from her mother, became a runaway hit with critics. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, 14 Sep. 2021 The other issue for Paul and Co. is that there’s much more to their tale not in this movie. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 3 Sep. 2021 But Liz Hauck has a very small part in her unforgettable tale. BostonGlobe.com, 2 Sep. 2021 Its tale of spying neighbors, unhappy marriages, and intrigue calls to mind classics like Fatal Attraction and Basic Instinct. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, 27 Aug. 2021 Montañez is a charismatic speaker, and his tale of a Mexican American underdog whose ingenuity conquered the corporate world is a rags-to-riches fable baked into the origin of a wildly popular snack. Houston Mitchell Assistant Sports Editor, Los Angeles Times, 6 Aug. 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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Dictionary Entries Near tale

talcum powder



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Statistics for tale

Last Updated

11 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tale.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tale. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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

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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