tale » tail

Chiefly in:   old wives tail , fairy tail , tell-tail , tattle-tail , wives tail

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Q. You mentioned something about a snake that has eaten a large meal would have to void the meal before hibernating if it was too late in the season. Did you actually witness this or any evidence of it?
    A. No , I think that’s perpetuating another ‘old wives tail’. (Cold Blooded News, Sep. 1997)
  • The old adage that people do not buy investment products has been proved to be untrue and I believe the Stakeholder will be a further nail in the coffin of that old wives’ tail. (Investment Management Association, "The Challenge of Stakeholder Pensions", Oct. 19, 2000)
  • Make a list of some of your Medical Beliefs (that might be an oxymoron) to hand in. Such as related to diet, preventing illness, healing, longevity, pain control, heart disease, cancer treatment, etc. etc. and indicate whether you believe those are based on “good hard science”, anecdotal evidence, witch-craft, snake-oil, old-wives tails, your doctor’s advice, your friend/neighbor, etc.etc. (UCLA School of Public Health, Epidemiology 100 syllabus, Mar. 23, 2004)
  • Yes, the villain and his henchmen are vanquished in the end, but everything is not perfected in some unreal fairy tail. (Chalcedon Foundation, Sep. 18, 2001)
  • At the June meeting we will be discussing Margaret Atwood’s The Robber Bride, along with The Robber Bridegroom, a short fairy tail by the Brothers Grimm. (Books and Cooks, June 8, 1998)
  • Speculations continued to fly over the Internet concerning whether Bush was wired, whether he had diabetes and the bulge was an insulin device, whether he had a heart attack (he had allegedly postponed his yearly physical this year), or whether the tell-tail bulge was just a flack jacket. Tailors weighed in and most said that the tell-tale bulges could not be explained by poor tailoring. (Blog Left, Oct. 30, 2004)
  • Emergency Civil Defense workers are in the fields, watching the skies for funnel clouds aloft and weather forecasters are in front of their radar screens looking for tell-tail tornado “hook echoes”. (UIUC Center for Biophysics and Computational Biology)
  • I don’t think it is morally right for the Truth Telling Project to solicit people to tattle-tail on the government. (Professional Ethics, Sep. 13, 2004)
  • Ms. Moultrie argued that tattle-tails are people that can’t solve their problems with their peers. (Minutes of the Demosthenian Literary Society, University of Georgia, Oct. 23, 1997)
  • There is a common wives-tail about Cottonmouth not being about to bite underwater. This is completely untrue. (Snakes of Arkansas)
  • Many people believe that modern traps have teeth and animals chew their legs off. These wives tails are just plain false. (ArboristSite, Jan. 24, 2005)

See also “old wise tail” and “make heads or tales of something.”

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2005/02/17 |

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