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old wives' tale

a traditional belief, story, or idea that is often of a superstitious nature.
Origin of old wives' tale
1670-80 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for old wives' tale
  • For several decades, scientists have believed what the old wives' tale has always declared: that chicken soup is good for colds.
  • And that, according to a local old wives' tale, was a sure sign they were to be wed.
  • Eating carrots to improve eyesight is an old wives' tale that's off base.
  • When they made camp that night, they laid a rope all the way around it following an old wives' tale.
British Dictionary definitions for old wives' tale

old wives' tale

a belief, usually superstitious or erroneous, passed on by word of mouth as a piece of traditional wisdom
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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Idioms and Phrases with old wives' tale

old wives' tale

A superstition, as in Toads cause warts? That's an old wives' tale. This expression was already known in ancient Greece, and a version in English was recorded in 1387. Despite invoking bigoted stereotypes of women and old people, it survives.
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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