Urban Legends

Urban legends are a kind of folklore, usually cautionary tales, horror stories, or tales of the barely believable. Most, of course, are not true, but the real question is not whether they are true, but what their function is.


Why, first off, are they called "urban" legends? They are identified with a place, the city. Why aren't they "rural" legends, or just "legends"? Cowboys used to tell "tall tales" - are these just modern versions of those?

It seems that urban legends have a chance of being true, while tall tales are obviously false.

Second, what do urban legends do? How do they help us construct our place, even if they don't explicitly mention place at all? See "What Urban Legends Mean"


Examples (from the
Urban Legends Reference Pages):