- a story, usually for children, about elves, hobgoblins, dragons, fairies, or other magical creatures.
- an incredible or misleading statement, account, or belief: His story of being a millionaire is just a fairy tale.
- a story about fairies or other mythical or magical beings, esp one of traditional origin told to children
- a highly improbable account
“oral narrative centered on magical tests, quests, and transformations,” 1749, translating French Conte de feés of Madame d’Aulnois (1698, translated into English 1699). As an adjective (also fairytale), attested by 1963.