Definition of fabliau in English:



  • A metrical tale, typically a bawdily humorous one, of a type found chiefly in early French poetry.

    ‘one may dispute that the French fabliaux are pornographic’
    as modifier ‘a distinctive feature of fabliau language’
    • ‘They tell tales ranging from courtly romances full of gallant knights and maidens-in-distress to rude fabliaux telling of the perils of drink, fighting and lust!’
    • ‘Fabliaux were comical and often grotesque stories in which the characters most often succeed by means of their sharp wits.’
    • ‘Peasants form a large part in the parody and satire of medieval Europe from the fabliaux to plays.’
    • ‘Fabliaux were characterized by vivid detail and realistic observation and were usually comic, coarse, and often cynical, especially in their treatment of women.’
    • ‘‘The Reeve's Tale’ is a fabliau about two clerks who are robbed by a miller of some of the meal which they take to his mill to be ground, and who take their vengeance by sleeping with the miller's wife and daughter.’


From Old French ( Picard dialect) fabliaux, plural of fablel ‘short fable’, diminutive of fable.