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, no, 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

a fish tale

A big lie. The phrase alludes to the tendency of fishermen to exaggerate the size of the fish they've caught or lost out on. I'm sure Grandpa is just telling you a fish tale—there's no way all of that's true!
See also: fish, tale

tell tales out of school

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

don't tell tales out of school

Do not share secrets or spread rumors with other people, as doing so will likely cause problems for someone else and will alienate you from them. Hey, I heard what you were saying at the bar the other night. Here's a tip: Don't tell tales out of school about your co-workers, or you aren't likely to have any friends here before long.
See also: of, out, school, tales, tell

never tell tales out of school

Do not share secrets or spread rumors with other people, as doing so will likely cause problems for someone else and will alienate you from them. Hey, I heard what you were saying at the bar the other night. Here's a tip: Never tell tales out of school about your co-workers, or you aren't likely to have any friends here before long.
See also: never, of, out, school, tales, tell

tale of woe

A story detailing one's personal problems or grievances, especially when used as an excuse for some failure. Mary's been late with three of her last four projects, and she's always got some tale of woe or another ready to justify her tardiness. I try not to sit next to Tom when we go the bar after work. After a beer or two, he invariable starts in on one of his tales of woe.
See also: of, tale, woe

fairy tale

1. noun A lie or fabricated account of something (likened to a clearly fictional fantasy story). I know he's telling me fairy tales to avoid admitting his mistakes.
2. adjective Resembling a fantasy story, especially due to being entirely positive or happy or having a happy ending. In this usage, the phrase is usually hyphenated. I really want a fairy-tale wedding, complete with a beautiful gown and a fancy cake. It wasn't some fairy-tale marrage, you know. We had our problems.
See also: fairy, tale

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, no, 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

tale of woe

a sad story; a list of personal problems; an excuse for failing to do something. I listened to her tale of woe without saying anything. This tale of woe that we have all been getting from Kelly is just too much.
See also: of, tale, woe

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, no, 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

fairy tale

and bedtime story
n. a simplistic and condescending explanation for something; a lie. I don’t want to hear a fairy tale, just the facts, ma’am. I’ve already heard your little bedtime story. You’ll have to do better than that!
See also: fairy, tale

tale of woe

n. a sad story; a list of personal problems; an excuse for failing to do something. I listened to her tale of woe without saying anything.
See also: of, tale, woe

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

tell tales out of school, to

To reveal secrets; to talk out of turn. The earliest appearance of this expression in print occurred in William Tindale’s The Practyse of Prelates (1530): “What cometh once in may never out, for fear of telling tales out of school.” Presumably it first applied to children gossiping about what they heard at school, but it soon was used figuratively. It is now on the verge of obsolescence. However, just plain to tell tales, meaning to lie, survives.
See also: of, out, tales, tell
References in periodicals archive ?
The whole narrative is conducted in Tajik, but for originality and credibility, the characters of folk tales speak different dialects of the state language.
In Part One, Maggi outlines the history of the Cupid and Psyche tale from Apuleius's Metamorphoses, written in the second century AD, to Basile's rewritings, and finally to Laura Gonzenbach's Sicilian Fairy Tales, a collection of folk tales translated from Sicilian dialect into German and first published in 1870.
Kissing the Witch creates thirteen distinct female characters who, apart from the witch figure in the last tale, are also familiar figures in canonical fairy tales.
The remaining chapters explore the relationship between childhood reading of moral tales and adult authorship, as the first generations of children who read them in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries grew up to establish Victorian literary culture.
Ellen Nagy, and I created a learning community that linked an interdisciplinary course, NDI (Non-Departmental/Integrated) 125: Sex and Violence in Fairy Tales, with HIS 105: World Civilizations I.
It is a great honor and a pleasure to introduce Cristina Bacchilega, a giant in the field of fairy tale and folklore studies, who combines a theoretically sophisticated critical lens with an extraordinary breadth and depth of knowledge about fairy-tale adaptations in all their forms.
These tales are ancient, but this telling is unlike anything else on the big screen.
FAIRY TALES ARC FULL OF COMMON ELEMENTS AND THEMES: fairies and elves, dwarfs and giants, people turning into animals, magic of various kinds, journeys to secret worlds hidden just out of view.
Scala's work, as a whole, contributes a structural reading of the tales to ongoing debates in Chaucer studies.
This engaging anthology of fairy and folk tales, edited with an atypical arrangement of material, is the result of the two editors' challenge to readers to rethink their own knowledge of these tales, the individual collectors, and the functions and contexts of these tales in both their own timeframe and the readers' contemporary milieu.
In her third chapter, 'Science and Superstition, Realism and Romance: Fairy Tale and Fantasy in the Adult Shilling Monthly' Sumpter brings new insights to the fascination with fairy tales evident in Macmillan's Magazine and the Cornhill Magazine, two pioneering periodicals of the 1860s usually hailed for their domestic realism rather than their engagements with fantasy.
Nineteenth-century German literature offers numerous examples of a fascination with the fairy tale form, from the Kunstmarchen of the Romantics to feminist fairy tales by Bettina von Arnim and Benedikte Naubert and the anti-fairy tale in Georg Buchner's Woyzeck.
Fairy tales is a genre of literature that--although for a long time neglected in scholarship--takes today an increasingly important position in both scholarship and on the landscape of publishing (see, e.g., O'Sullivan; Zipes, "Why Fantasy" <http://dx.doi.org/10.7771/1481-4374.1392>).
Fairy Tales Transformed?: Twenty-First-Century Adaptations & the Politics of Wonder.
20 -- We've all grown up hearing fairy tales of "Hansel and Gretel", "Cinderella", "The Frog Prince", "Rumpelstiltskin", "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" and "Little Red Riding Hood".