: a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon
creation myths
: parable, allegory
Moral responsibility is the motif of Plato's myths.
: a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone
especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society
seduced by the American myth of individualism Orde Coombs
the utopian myth of a perfect society
: an unfounded or false notion
the myth of racial superiority
: a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence
the Superman myth
The unicorn is a myth.
: the whole body of myths
a student of Greek myth

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Myth and Urban Myth

For a word so often applied to events or stories from long, long ago, myth has a remarkably recent history in the English language. The earliest evidence for the word is from 1830, well after the time when the events themselves are thought to have occurred (though it should be noted that the related words mythology and mythic are hundreds of years older – still not as old as Achilles, but not young, either!). One application of myth, however – in the phrase urban myth – is quite new. Curiously, an urban myth does not usually have anything to do with the city: it is simply “a story about an unusual event or occurrence that many people believe is true but that is not true.” An example would be the tale that Elvis Presley is still alive after spending decades in a witness protection program. The phrase urban myth has been used to describe such hoaxes since at least 1971.

Examples of myth in a Sentence

It's an enduring myth that money brings happiness. I don't believe the myths and legends about this forest. Contrary to popular myth, no monster lives in this lake.
Recent Examples on the Web Raines, a former executive editor of the New York Times, has done great work debunking another Lost Cause myth to bring these soldiers into the light. Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times, 29 Nov. 2023 Tip 3: Invest Smart Tu dispels the myth that only the wealthy can invest and emphasizes the transformative power of investments. Laura Begley Bloom, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 The Lies and Troubles of George Santos For the entirety of his public life, the first-term Republican congressman has been a man shrouded in myths. Kayla Guo, New York Times, 26 Nov. 2023 Read: Humans can’t quit a basic myth about dog breeds Although it’s found in an apparent minority of cats, fetching really does seem to come naturally to some felines. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 22 Nov. 2023 During this interview, Jackie invented the Camelot myth, referencing JFK’s favorite Broadway musical. Lynsey Eidell, Peoplemag, 22 Nov. 2023 Turkey as a traditional Thanksgiving dish was solidified in American myth soon after. Elizabeth Gamillo, Discover Magazine, 15 Nov. 2023 From De Los: How UCLA is trying to break the myth of the Latino monolith UCLA’s Latino Data Hub is looking to provide statistics to help ensure a more accurate and nuanced understanding of Latinos in the United States. Fidel Martinez, Los Angeles Times, 16 Nov. 2023 And like anything that becomes attached to a holiday tradition, turkeys have long attracted their own share of myths and misinformation. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 14 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'myth.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


earlier mythos, mythus, borrowed from Greek mŷthos "utterance, speech, discourse, tale, narrative, fiction, legend," of obscure origin

First Known Use

1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of myth was in 1830

Dictionary Entries Near myth

Cite this Entry

“Myth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a story often describing the adventures of superhuman beings that attempts to describe the origin of a people's customs or beliefs or to explain mysterious events (as the changing of the seasons)
: a person or thing that exists only in the imagination
the dragon is a myth
: a popular belief that is false or unsupported

More from Merriam-Webster on myth

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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