Cinderella is a folk tale embodying a myth-element of unjust oppression/triumphant reward. Thousands of variants are known throughout the world. The title character is a young woman living in unfortunate circumstances, that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune. The oldest documented version comes from China, and the oldest European version from Italy. The most popular version was first published by Charles Perrault in Histoires ou contes du temps passé in 1697, and later by the Brothers Grimm in their folk tale collection Grimms' Fairy Tales.
Although the story's title and main character's name change in different languages, in English-language folklore "Cinderella" is the archetypal name. The word "Cinderella" has, by analogy, come to mean one whose attributes were unrecognized, or one who unexpectedly achieves recognition or success after a period of obscurity and neglect. The still-popular story of "Cinderella" continues to influence popular culture internationally, lending plot elements, allusions, and tropes to a wide variety of media.
The Aarne–Thompson system classifies Cinderella as "the persecuted heroine". The story of Rhodopis, about a Greek slave girl who marries the king of Egypt, is considered the earliest known variant of the "Cinderella" story (published 7 BC), and many variants are known throughout the world.