Tail and Tale: What's the difference?

Do you know the difference between the words tail and tale?

If you are going to check it, tail and tale are simply twins. These two words have the same pronunciation but different meaning and spelling. In English, tail and tale are the best examples of homonyms.

Grammatically, the word tail can function as both a noun and a verb while tale functions only as a noun. The word tail has several meanings, including the rear part of an animal or vehicle. As a verb, it means to follow and observe (someone) closely, especially in secret. On the contrary, the noun tale refers to a report or story.

Interestingly, tail and tale don’t just have one plain meaning. In fact, ‘tail’ as being defined by the dictionary has 4 meanings while ‘tale’ has 2 definitions.

Are you excited to find out their meanings? Well, grab your pen and paper, and let’s find out the difference between these words.

The different meanings of Tail

(1) Movable part at the end of the body of a bird or an animal or a fish

For example:

Fido, my dog, always wags his tail every time he sees me.

(2) Thing like a tail in its shape or position

For example:

Can you see the tail of the parade?

I can see the tail of the carnival from here.

(3) Buttocks

For example:

He smacked her on the tail after he caught her lying.

I hate it when someone taps my tail.

(4) Person following or watching something without being seen by him

For example:

Put a tail on the suspicious-looking man.

The different meanings of Tale

(1) Narrative or story

For example:

Hans Christian Andersen became so popular thanks to his fairy tales.

The tale of Hera and Zeus is among my favorite in Greek mythology.

(2) Report spread by gossip often false or invented

For example:

She hated the old-tales about her.

Jane always gets in trouble for telling false tales and rumors.

Tail and Tale: The Summary

In conclusion, it’s very hard for us to find the difference between tail and tale in spoken English because both these words have the same pronunciation. However, we should be careful when using them in written English since there’s a whale of a difference between these words.

Next time, to avoid mixing these words in the sentence, you better not forget the commonly used meanings of these words.

The tail is the rear part of an animal or vehicle.

Tale refers to a report or story.