myth

noun
\ ˈmith How to pronounce myth (audio) \

Definition of myth

1a : 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
b : parable, allegory Moral responsibility is the motif of Plato's myths.
2a : 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
b : an unfounded or false notion the myth of racial superiority
3 : a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence the Superman myth The unicorn is a myth.
4 : the whole body of myths a student of Greek myth

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Synonyms for myth

Synonyms

fable, legend, mythos

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Hadestown — a folk opera that spins a new version of ancient Greek myths — was the big winner of the night, capturing eight prizes including Best Musical. Jessica Derschowitz, EW.com, "Tony Awards 2019: See the full list of winners," 9 June 2019 But in this broader moment of reckoning with the complexity of national myths, the narrative of the SAT and its parent company, the College Board, deserves scrutiny. Annie Abrams, The New Republic, "The College Board Hopes to Profit from “Adversity”," 6 June 2019 D’Huy thinks the origins of the Pygmalion myths are much deeper than is typically thought. Ferris Jabr, Harper's magazine, "The Story of Storytelling," 10 Mar. 2019 The dominance of this myth has much more to do with the frequency of its repetition and the ferocity of its messengers than with any evidence whatsoever. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "Are the teachers unions really as powerful as all that?," 27 June 2018 One pervasive myth is that the U.S. is deporting only people who have committed crimes, targeting threats to public safety. Natascha Uhlmann, Teen Vogue, "How Activists Can Fight Back Against Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)," 13 May 2019 The idea that sugar is bad and addictive is arguably the queen of all diet myths these days. Jaclyn London, Ms, Rd, Cdn, Good Housekeeping, "Is Sugar Bad for You? Here's What You Need to Know," 26 Mar. 2019 This myth that Drake is less reckless and more chivalrous than rappers like, say, Future, needs to be debunked. refinery29.com, "Can We Finally Admit Drake Isn't The "Good Guy" We Thought He Was?," 29 June 2018 Mr Carreyrou recounts this creation myth without comment. The Economist, "The rise and fall of Elizabeth Holmes, Silicon Valley’s startup queen," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'myth.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of myth

1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for myth

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

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Learn More about myth

Dictionary Entries near myth

mystifiedly

mystify

mystique

myth

mythi

mythical

mythicalness

Statistics for myth

Last Updated

16 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for myth

The first known use of myth was in 1830

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More Definitions for myth

myth

noun

English Language Learners Definition of myth

: an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true
: a story that was told in an ancient culture to explain a practice, belief, or natural occurrence
: such stories as a group

myth

noun
\ ˈmith How to pronounce myth (audio) \

Kids Definition of myth

1 : a story often describing the adventures of beings with more than human powers that attempts to explain mysterious events (as the changing of the seasons) or that explains a religious belief or practice
2 : such stories as a group
3 : a person or thing existing only in the imagination The dragon is a myth.
4 : a popular belief that is not true It's just a myth that money can buy happiness.

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More from Merriam-Webster on myth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with myth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for myth

Spanish Central: Translation of myth

Nglish: Translation of myth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of myth for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about myth

Comments on myth

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