"Fairytale" VS "Fairy Tale" VS "Fairy-tale"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Meriole, Oct 18, 2017.

  1. Meriole New Member


    I'm french and I want to know if there are a difference between "Fairytale" / "Fairy Tale" / "Fairy-tale"? I mean, in which context we use specially those three words? Or the three words have the same meaning?

    I had taken a look on this page: fairytale - English-French Dictionary WordReference.com

    It's written that:
    - fairytale is more used for the context of children's story, romantic
    - fairy tale is more used for the context of fantasy story
    - fairy-tale is more used for the context of magical, ideal

    I will be really happy if someone can help me about my question.

    Thank by advance.
  2. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    English - England
    They all mean exactly the same. I think fairytale is probably the most common spelling. It's the one I would use, anyway.
  3. atcheque Senior Member

    français (France)
  4. entangledbank

    entangledbank Senior Member

    English - South-East England
    No, there's no difference between them (as nouns). English very often has this free choice between punctuation variations. As a modifier of another noun, we probably wouldn't use the version with a space: we'd prefer a fairy-tale quality or a fairytale quality.
  5. heypresto

    heypresto Senior Member

    South East England
    English - England
    Welcome to the forum. :)

    I would use 'fairy tale' as the noun, and 'fairytale' as an adjective.

    The WR Dictionary, however, gives 'fairy-tale' as the adjective.

  6. PaulQ

    PaulQ Senior Member

    English - England
    A frequently collocated pair of nouns often make the transition from two words to hyphenated words to a single word. You are witnessing evolution in action. :D
  7. Glenfarclas Senior Member

    English (American)
    I agree, although "fairy-tale," with the hyphen, seems equally valid for the adjective. In any event, I think I would consider "fairytale" or "fairy-tale" to be incorrect as nouns and "fairy tale" to be incorrect as an adjective:

    He told the children a fairytale. :cross:
    He told the children a fairy-tale. :cross:
    They live a fairy tale life. :cross:
  8. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    English - England
    Annoyingly, even Oxford is of the opinion that fairytale should be written as two words. But in my book (yet to be written!:)), fairy story is two words, fairytale is one. And there are at least scores, very probably hundreds and quite possibly thousands of published books with Fairytale, as one word, in the title. It's surely pointless to be either prescriptive or proscriptive in this case.
  9. Edinburgher Senior Member

    German/English bilingual
    Why "annoyingly"? They are simply being descriptive, as all good dictionaries should be.

    The one-word version is still decisively in the minority:
    Google Ngram Viewer
  10. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    English - England
    Annoyingly because I usually use them as my "bible" and I don't like it when we disagree. :)
  11. Meriole New Member

    Thanks you really much for all those fast answers.

    I have enough informations, to answer to my initial answer.

    Thank you for this kind welcome :)!

    I will post others messages when I have problem with english.:rolleyes:
  12. Andygc

    Andygc Senior Member

    British English
    No, it doesn't have an opinion on the matter, it merely reflects usage. One of the most recent citations is
    All the OED shows is that the word "fairy-tale" is only recently evolving into "fairytale".
  13. lingobingo

    lingobingo Senior Member

    English - England
    Just for the record, there are many quirks of language that irk me infinitely more than whether to put a space between fairy and tale. I'm fairly [sic] sure the same applies to everyone else on this forum. :D
  14. ain'ttranslationfun? Senior Member

    US English
    I'd use 'fairy-tale' as an adjective, too.

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