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pseudo-translation of French Cendrillon, from cendre "ashes" (see cinder). Used figuratively for something unappreciated or something that ends at midnight. A widespread Eurasian folk tale, the oldest known version is Chinese (c.850 C.E.); the English version is based on Perrault's "Cendrillon" (1697), translated from French 1729 by Robert Sambler, but native versions probably existed (e.g. Scottish "Rashin Coatie"). The German form is Aschenbrödel, literally "scullion," from asche "ash" (see ash (n.1)) + brodeln "bubble up, to brew."
A fairy tale from the collection of Charles Perrault. Cinderella, a young girl, is forced by her stepmother and stepsisters to do heavy housework and relaxes by sitting among the cinders by the fireplace. One evening, when the prince of the kingdom is holding a ball, Cinderella's fairy godmother visits her, magically dresses her for the ball, turns a pumpkin into a magnificent carriage for her, warns her not to stay past midnight, and sends her off. Cinderella captivates the prince at the ball but leaves just as midnight is striking, and in her haste she drops a slipper; as the story is usually told in English, the slipper is made of glass. She returns home with her fine clothes turned back into rags and her carriage a pumpkin again. The prince searches throughout the kingdom for the owner of the slipper. Cinderella is the only one whom it fits, and the prince marries her.
Note: The name Cinderella is sometimes applied to a person or group that undergoes a sudden transformation, such as an athletic team that loses frequently and then starts to win steadily.
heroine of a European folktale, the theme of which appears in numerous stories worldwide; more than 500 versions of the story have been recorded in Europe alone. Its essential features are a youngest daughter who is mistreated by her jealous stepmother and elder stepsisters or a cruel father; intervention of a supernatural helper on her behalf; and the reversal of fortune brought about by a prince who falls in love with her and marries her. One of the oldest known literary renderings of the theme is a Chinese version recorded in the 9th century AD