tales


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Related to tales: Thales, Pitagoras

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

tall tale

A greatly exaggerated or particularly imaginative story or account of something, such that it is difficult to believe. My uncle has always been fond of telling tall tales about his time overseas. I used to believe him when I was a kid, but now I've learned to just laugh along.
See also: tale, tall

dead men tell no tales

Those who are dead cannot reveal secrets. The boss wants us to kill that guy because it's the only way we can guarantee his silence—dead men tell no tales, after all.
See also: dead, men, tales, tell

tell tales

To share secrets, often knowing that doing so will cause problems for someone else. Here's a tip: don't tell tales about your co-workers if you want to have any friends here.
See also: tales, tell

Dead men tell no tales.

Prov. Dead people will not betray any secrets. The club members liked to hold their secret meetings in a graveyard, since dead men tell no tales. Gangster: Mugsy is going to tell the police that we robbed the bank. How can we stop him? Henchman: Dead men tell no tales.
See also: dead, men, tales, tell

Never tell tales out of school.

Prov. Do not tell secrets; do not gossip. Fred: I just learned something really scandalous about the president of our company. Ellen: Well, I don't want to hear it. You shouldn't tell tales out of school.
See also: never, of, out, school, tales, tell

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

tell tales out of school

to tell secrets or spread rumors. I wish that John would keep quiet. He's telling tales out of school again. If you tell tales out of school a lot, people won't know when to believe you.
See also: of, out, school, tales, tell

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

tall tale

A fanciful or greatly exaggerated story, as in Some youngsters love tall tales about creatures from outer space coming to earth. This idiom uses tall in the sense of "exaggerated." [Mid-1800s]
See also: tale, tall

tell tales

Divulge secrets, as in Don't trust him; he's apt to tell tales. This expression was first recorded about 1350. A variant, tell tales out of school, first recorded in 1530, presumably alluded to schoolchildren gossiping but was soon broadened to revealing secret or private information. Both may be obsolescent.
See also: tales, tell

dead men tell no tales

People say dead men tell no tales to say that someone who is dead cannot give any information to anyone. His password was so secure that when he died, nobody could get into the database. And dead men tell no tales.
See also: dead, men, tales, tell

tell tales

If someone tells tales, they tell someone in authority about something bad or wrong that someone else has done. She had no right to tell tales to his mother! They try to get convicted criminals to tell tales on their mates in return for cuts in their own sentences. Note: This expression is used to show disapproval.
See also: tales, tell

tell tales (out of school)

gossip about or reveal another person's secrets, wrong-doings, or faults.
As telling tales to school authorities is a terrible offence in the eyes of schoolchildren, this expression is often used in the context of declining to supply information or gossip.
1991 Mark Tully No Full Stops in India Indira trusted me throughout her life, and just because she's dead it's not right that I should break that trust and tell tales about her.
See also: tales, tell

tell ˈtales (about somebody/something)

(British English) tell somebody, especially somebody in authority, that another person has done something wrong: How did the boss know that I was late for work this morning? I think somebody’s been telling tales about me.
See also: tales, tell

tell ˌtales out of ˈschool

talk about the private affairs of a group or an organization to people who do not belong to it: I shouldn’t tell tales out of school, but my company is in serious trouble.
See also: of, out, school, tales, tell
References in classic literature ?
The common people regarded it with a mixture of respect and superstition, partly out of sympathy for the fate of its ill- starred namesake, and partly from the tales of strange sights, and doleful lamentations, told concerning it.
But the peculiar tale of this nature to which the author of Ivanhoe has to acknowledge an obligation, is more ancient by two centuries than any of these last mentioned.
Tom Platt puffed at his pipe in scornful silence: he was a Cape Cod man, and had not known that tale more than twenty years.
I tell you he could tell the tale of all his adventures if only we had understanding.
There were certain tales which all minstrels had to know, and the best among them could tell three hundred and fifty.
His mind and eye were keen, besides, for moral qualities; he penetrated directly through all the pretenses of falsehood and hypocrisy; while how thoroughly he understood and respected honest worth appears in the picture of the Poor Parson in the Prolog to 'The Canterbury Tales.
But the narrative of Hephaestus binding Here his mother, or how on another occasion Zeus sent him flying for taking her part when she was being beaten, and all the battles of the gods in Homer--these tales must not be admitted into our State, whether they are supposed to have an allegorical meaning or not.
We will, therefore, not listen to what was spoken, and on no condition run in the possibility of telling tales out of school; but we will rather proceed, like good quiet citizens, to East Street, and observe what happened meanwhile to the body of the watchman.
I may venture to assert the same of every aspect of the story, while I confess that the particular typhoon of the tale was not a typhoon of my actual experience.
But as it is a tale which he is not acquainted with, and can only find out what it is by listening as it goes along telling itself, it is more than apt to go on and on and on till it spreads itself into a book.
Now, my father, I will go back a little, for my tale is long and winds in and out like a river in a plain, and tell of the fate of Umslopogaas when the lion had taken him, as he told it to me in the after years.
Now, my friends," said she, "to wile away the time till the bright moon goes down, let us each tell a tale, or relate what we have done or learned this day.
And they may unfold a tale of narrow escape, of steady ill-luck, of high winds and heavy weather, of ice, of interminable calms or endless head-gales; a tale of difficulties overcome, of adversity defied by a small knot of men upon the great loneliness of the sea; a tale of resource, of courage - of helplessness, perhaps.
As this work professes, in its title-page, to be a descriptive tale, they who will take the trouble to read it may be glad to know how much of its contents is literal fact, and how much is intended to represent a general picture.
Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips