1. A recital of events or happenings; a report or revelation: told us a long tale of woe.
2. A malicious story, piece of gossip, or petty complaint.
3. A deliberate lie; a falsehood.
4. A narrative of real or imaginary events; a story.
5. Archaic A tally or reckoning; a total.
[Middle English, from Old English talu; see del-2 in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.