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Cinderella

[sin-duh-rel-uh] /ˌsɪn dəˈrɛl ə/
noun
1.
a heroine of a fairy tale or folk tale who is maltreated by a malevolent stepmother but achieves happiness and marries a prince through the benevolent intervention of a fairy godmother.
2.
(italics) the tale itself, the earliest version of which is in Chinese and dates from the 9th century a.d.
3.
(italics) a ballet (1945) with musical score by Sergei Prokofiev.
4.
a person or thing of merit, undeservedly neglected or forced into a wretched or obscure existence.
5.
a person who achieves unexpected or sudden success or recognition, especially after obscurity, neglect, or misery.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for Cinderella
  • The story is followed by similar events as the western Cinderella.
British Dictionary definitions for Cinderella

Cinderella

/ˌsɪndəˈrɛlə/
noun
1.
a girl who achieves fame after being obscure
2.
  1. a poor, neglected, or unsuccessful person or thing
  2. (as modifier): a Cinderella service within the NHS
3.
(modifier) relating to dramatic success: a Cinderella story
Word Origin
C19: after Cinderella, the heroine of a fairy tale who is aided by a fairy godmother
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for Cinderella
n.

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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Cinderella in Culture

“Cinderella” definition


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.
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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Encyclopedia Article for Cinderella

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

Learn more about Cinderella with a free trial on Britannica.com
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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