fa·​ble | \ ˈfā-bəl How to pronounce fable (audio) \

Definition of fable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a fictitious narrative or statement: such as
a : a legendary story of supernatural happenings Minerva is in fables said, from Jove without a mother to proceed— Sir John Davies
b : a narration intended to enforce a useful truth especially : one in which animals speak and act like human beings The theme of the fable was the folly of human vanity.
c : falsehood, lie The story that he won the battle single-handedly is a mere fable.


fabled; fabling\ ˈfā-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fable (audio) \

Definition of fable (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

archaic : to tell fables

transitive verb

: to talk or write about as if true

Other Words from fable


fabler \ ˈfā-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce fable (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for fable

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of fable in a Sentence

Noun a fable about busy ants The story that he won the battle single-handedly is a mere fable. He combines fact and fable to make a more interesting story.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun This six-film marathon that runs into the wee smalls gets underway with John Carpenter’s 1994 horror fable inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft and starring Sam Neill and Charlton Heston. Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2021 Each chapter focuses on a different fable and a different topic. courant.com, 21 Oct. 2021 Whatever hopes Arkansas might have had upon arrival in Athens were dwindling, the Razorbacks already looking destined to be a footnote instead of a fable in the history of the 2021 season. New York Times, 2 Oct. 2021 The author might reply, with some justice, that a fable is a therapeutic contraption, and so is plenty of Dickens. James Wood, The New Yorker, 27 Sep. 2021 The work is a fable without a moral, evincing Lessing’s uncanny comprehension of twisted humanity. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2021 Al Tabbab by Khalifa Al-Janahi is an animated fable about sailors who trade with a Sea Demon for pearls and a young child who sees the unfairness of the situation and had the bravery to challenge the monster. Tom Teicholz, Forbes, 15 Oct. 2021 Jeff Goldblum! — in David Cronenberg’s gruesome, effects-laden 1986 remake of the 1958 sci-fi-horror fable that starred Vincent Price. Los Angeles Times, 22 Oct. 2021 That's also a fitting description for Lamb, a surreal and hypnotic fable from first-time director Valdimar Jóhannsson. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, 8 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Arrebato 4K restoration of Spanish filmmaker Iván Zulueta‘s hallucinatory 1980 horror fable about a director and a heroin addict. Los Angeles Times, 26 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fable.' 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 fable


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for fable


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin fābula "talk, gossip, account, tale, legend," from fā-, stem of for, fārī "to speak, say" + -bula, feminine derivative of -bulum, instrumental suffix (going back to Indo-European *-dhlom) — more at ban entry 1


Middle English fablen, borrowed from Anglo-French fabler, fableier, going back to Latin fābulārī "to talk, converse, invent a story," verbal derivative of fābula "talk, account, fable entry 1"

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Time Traveler for fable

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The first known use of fable was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

19 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fable. Accessed 29 Nov. 2021.

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More Definitions for fable



English Language Learners Definition of fable

: a short story that usually is about animals and that is intended to teach a lesson
: a story or statement that is not true


fa·​ble | \ ˈfā-bəl How to pronounce fable (audio) \

Kids Definition of fable

1 : a story that is not true
2 : a story in which animals speak and act like people and which is usually meant to teach a lesson

More from Merriam-Webster on fable

Nglish: Translation of fable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fable for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fable


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