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
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2015 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

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
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs. © 2002 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.

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
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

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
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

old wives' tale

A superstitious story. This term actually dates back to Plato, who repeated the phrase in a number of writings and was so cited by Erasmus. In English a version of it appeared in John Trevisa’s translation of Polycronicon, “And useth telynges as olde wifes dooth” (1387), and then began to be used frequently from the sixteenth century on. “These are trifles and mere old wives’ tales” wrote Christopher Marlowe in Doctor Faustus (ca. 1589). Arnold Bennett used it as the title of a novel (1908), and this sex-and age-biased cliché persists to the present day.
See also: old, tale
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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References in periodicals archive ?
| Verdict: Old wives' tale FEEDING A COLD: This old proverb might make some sense intuitively, as fevers, which only last a day or two, can make us feel less hungry.
Now for a look at some old wives' tales about weather and the garden.
Nan, queen of the old wives' tales, had a cure or treatment for everything...
From mythology to superstition; old wives' tales and stories of tragedy, there are many claims to the origins of the Devil's Dozen.
Three main strands--'taken by the fairies', 'old wives' tales', and 'hobby horses and fellow travellers' (which includes morris dancers)--are introduced in Part I and provide the framework for reading Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream and Merry Wives of Windsor, Spenser's The Faerie Queene, and Jonson's Oberon, the Fairy Prince and The Sad Shepherd.
Old wives' tales keep being told, I suppose, because sometimes they have a modicum of truth.
Forget the old wives' tales about drowning slugs in beer.
Gay old wives' tales like "I can't get it 'cause I'm a top" and its evil twin "I won't get it if he pulls out" provide the unwary with a sort of idiot's reassurance.
At the time, many were the old wives' tales being circulated that sterility was the fate in store for all of us, but there was no panic (ribald comment, certainly!).
Old Wives' Tales": a realm of superstition, where much is invested in a small detail (a pinch of salt, an ominous smell), where folklore reigns over rationality, and where fact surrenders to belief, generation after generation of women.
From the name, Old Wives' Tales, to the fact that owners Michelle and Rui make it feel more like dinner at a friend's house than a restaurant, this place is certainly distinctive.
The survey, which questioned 2,000 British adults about health and wellbeing, showed that misconceptions and old wives' tales, including the myth that eating carrots improves night vision, prevail among the population when it comes to beliefs about common illnesses.
She did not say who they were, or why they said it, but if it is only myths and old wives' tales we can safely ignore it.
Other "old wives' tales" frequently thought to be true include not being able to start exercising during pregnancy (39 per cent) and that sleeping on your back can harm the unborn baby (25 per cent).
ONE of the barmiest old wives' tales says mums who want a boy should only eat bread crusts.