See also: fairytale and fairy-tale

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fairy tale (plural fairy tales)

  1. A folktale or literary story featuring fairies or similar fantasy characters.
    I used to love reading fairy tales when I was a child.
    • 1717, Mrs Holt, A Fairy Tale Inscrib'd, to the Honourable Mrs. W----- With other poems, London: R. Burleigh:
    • 1828, Thomas Keightley, The Fairy Mythology, volume II, London: William Harrison Ainsworth, page 122:
      The Wife of Bathes Tale is evidently a Fairy-tale. It thus commences: In olde dayes of the king Artour, / Of which that Bretons speken gret honour, / All was this land fulfilled of faerie.
    • 1828 April 12, The Hobart Town Courier, page 4, column 4:
      The Arabian Nights rehears'd in bed! / The Fairy Tales in school-time read.
  2. (uncountable) The literary genre of these stories.
    • 1819 February 27, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, page 4, column 3:
      Their dresses were rich, and when they came bounding forward, their shapes of silver tissue, with their feathered diadems and faces of animated beauty, they might be imagined into scarcely less than the creations of fairy tale.
    • 1989, Marilyn Berg Callander, Willa Cather and the Fairy Tale, Ann Arbor: UMI Research Press, page 27:
      Mr. Shimerda kneels in front of the tree in prayer; a praying figure under a magic tree is a common one in fairy tale.
  3. A story presented as true that is not believable.
    He's telling us another fairy tale about how great the software will be.
    • 1825 May 5, The Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser, page 2, column 4:
      If emigrants will submit to the "fairy tales" of Mr. Thomas, and fall in with his suggestions, they must patiently submit to the disagreeable consequences.
    • 1968, Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, 2nd edition, London: Fontana Press, published 1993, page 28:
      Comedy as satire is acceptable, as fun it is a pleasant haven of escape, but the fairy tale of happiness ever after cannot be taken seriously; it belongs to the never-never land of childhood, which is protected from the realities that will become terribly known soon enough[.]
  4. A delightful and ideal situation of a kind attained by very few.
    I've been living in a fairy tale since I met Joe.

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