old wives' tale

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old wives' tale

A now-debunked story or idea that was once believed, often superstitiously. How can you believe in that old wives' tale? Oh, that's just an old wives' tale! A broken mirror does not guarantee seven years' bad luck.
See also: old, tale

old wives' tale

Fig. a myth or superstition. You really don't believe that stuff about starving a cold do you? It's just an old wives' tale.
See also: old, tale

old wives' tale

A superstition, as in Toads cause warts? That's an old wives' tale. This expression was already known in ancient Greece, and a version in English was recorded in 1387. Despite invoking bigoted stereotypes of women and old people, it survives.
See also: old, tale

an old wives' tale

COMMON An old wives' tale is a belief that a lot of people have that is based on traditional ideas, often ones which have been proved to be incorrect. My mother used to tell me to feed a cold and starve a fever. Is it just an old wives' tale? It's not just an old wives' tale, you know, that full moons and madness go together.
See also: old, tale

an old wives' tale

a widely held traditional belief that is now thought to be unscientific or incorrect.
The phrase (and its earlier variant old wives' fable ) is recorded from the early 16th century, with the earliest example being from Tyndale's translation of the Bible.
See also: old, tale

an old ˈwives’ tale

(disapproving) an old idea or belief that has proved not to be scientific: When you’re expecting a baby, people tell you all sorts of old wives’ tales.The belief that make-up ruins your skin is just an old wives’ tale.
See also: old, tale
References in periodicals archive ?
Peele also draws upon the character Eumenides from Lyly's Endymion, which influenced The Old Wives Tale.
46) Cox has characterized The Old Wives Tale as a medieval mystery play in which Jack is the supernatural hero.
58) In The Old Wives Tale, Peele shows the benefits of a voluntary system of charity as opposed to the coercion practiced by the churchwarden.
The Old Wives Tale belongs to the nationalistic literature developed to praise Elizabeth and Protestant England.
The Old Wives Tale, in The Dramatic Works of George Peele, vol.
John Cox, "Homely Matter and Multiple Plots in Peele's Old Wives Tale," Texas Studies in Language and Literature 20 (1978): 330-46.
The Dramatic Techniques of The Old Wives Tale," Renaissance Drama 12 (1981): 117-43; Susan Viguers, "The Hearth and the Cell: Art in The Old Wives Tale," SEL 21(1981): 209-21; Roger De V.
Harold Jenkins, "Peele's Old Wives Tale," MLR 34(1939): 23.
James Bratcher, "Peele's Old Wives Tale and Tale-Type 425 A," in Studies in Medieval, Renaissance, and American Literature .
Muriel Bradbrook, "Peele's The Old Wives Tale," in Aspects of Dramatic Form in the English and the Irish Renaissance: The Collected Papers of Muriel Bradbrook, vol.