the canterbury tales

American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

The Canterbury Tales definition


A work written by Geoffrey Chaucer in the late fourteenth century about a group of pilgrims, of many different occupations and personalities, who meet at an inn near London as they are setting out for Canterbury, England. Their host proposes a storytelling contest to make the journey more interesting.

Note: Some of the more famous stories are “The Knight's Tale,” “The Miller's Tale,” and “The Wife of Bath's Tale.”
Note: The tales, which are almost all in rhyme, have many different styles, reflecting the great diversity of the pilgrims; some are notoriously bawdy. The language of The Canterbury Tales is Middle English.
The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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