[ teyl ]
See synonyms for: taletales on Thesaurus.com

  1. a narrative that relates the details of some real or imaginary event, incident, or case; story: a tale about Lincoln's dog.

  2. a literary composition having the form of such a narrative.

  1. a falsehood; lie.

  2. a rumor or piece of gossip, often malicious or untrue.

  3. the full number or amount.

  4. Archaic. enumeration; count.

  5. Obsolete. talk; discourse.

Origin of tale

before 900; Middle English; Old English talu series, list, narrative, story; cognate with Dutch taal speech, language, German Zahl number, Old Norse tala number, speech. See tell1

Words that may be confused with tale

Words Nearby tale

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use tale in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for tale


/ (teɪl) /

  1. a report, narrative, or story

  2. one of a group of short stories connected by an overall narrative framework

    • a malicious or meddlesome rumour or piece of gossip: to bear tales against someone

    • (in combination): talebearer; taleteller

  1. a fictitious or false statement

  2. tell tales

    • to tell fanciful lies

    • to report malicious stories, trivial complaints, etc, esp to someone in authority

  3. tell a tale to reveal something important

  4. tell its own tale to be self-evident

  5. archaic

    • a number; amount

    • computation or enumeration

  6. an obsolete word for talk

Origin of tale

Old English talu list; related to Old Frisian tele talk, Old Saxon, Old Norse tala talk, number, Old High German zala number

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Other Idioms and Phrases with tale


see old wives' tale; tall tale; tell tales; thereby hangs a tale.

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