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Re: "spin a tale"

Posted by R. Berg on February 06, 2003

In Reply to: Re: "Spin a tale" posted by James Briggs on February 06, 2003

: : : I'd like to find out the origin and meaning of this phrase. Thanks!

: : The transitive of "spin" has a meaning of forming or creating as when a spider "spins" a web.
: : So when someone "spins a tale" he or she is creating or forming a story.

: I think this could have a different origin. In the UK the saying is often 'to spin a yarn' - a yarn being a story or tale. At first this seems an odd combination of words until it's remembered that, in the old days, women used to spin yarn on spinning wheels. They frequently did this in groups and, to pass the time, they often told each other stories. In time the words came to mean the production of the stories themselves.

Those two ideas don't seem so different. Spinning a (spider's) web and spinning (wool) yarn are the same kind of process--fiber production--from a point of view that leaves out the technical details.