spin a yarn

Tell a story, especially a long drawn-out or totally fanciful one, as in This author really knows how to spin a yarn, or Whenever he's late he spins some yarn about a crisis. Originally a nautical term dating from about 1800, this expression probably owes its life to the fact that it embodies a double meaning, yarn signifying both “spun fiber” and “a tale.”

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.