- tale (n.)
- Old English talu "story, tale, the action of telling," from Proto-Germanic *talo (cf. Dutch taal "speech, language"), from PIE root *del- "to recount, count." The secondary English sense of "number, numerical reckoning" (c.1200) probably was the primary one in Germanic; cf. teller (see tell) and Old Frisian tale, Middle Dutch tal "number," Old Saxon tala "number," Old High German zala, German Zahl "number."
The ground sense of the Modern English word in its main meaning, then, might have been "an account of things in their due order." Related to talk and tell. Meaning "things divulged that were given secretly, gossip" is from mid-14c.; first record of talebearer "tattletale" is late 15c.