fa·​ble | \ˈfā-bəl \

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 \

Definition of fable (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

archaic : to tell fables

transitive verb

: to talk or write about as if true

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Other Words from fable


fabler \ ˈfā-​b(ə-​)lər \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for fable

Synonyms: Noun

fabrication, fairy tale, falsehood, falsity, fib, lie, mendacity, prevarication, story, tale, untruth, whopper

Antonyms: Noun


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Examples of fable in a Sentence


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

Pinker cites an old Soviet fable — in which one peasant establishes equality with another by killing the other’s goat — to argue that promoting equality might harm those at the top rather help those at the bottom. David Lay Williams, Washington Post, "What Steven Pinker gets wrong about economic inequality — and the Enlightenment," 11 Mar. 2018 Evangeline, the Queen of Make-Believe Grammy winner Gaby Moreno stars in this musical fable, with songs by Los Lobos' David Hidalgo and Louie Perez, about a young woman from 1960s East L.A. who finds her way to the Sunset Strip. Matt Cooper, latimes.com, "The week ahead in L.A. theater, March 25-April 1: 'American Mariachi,' 'Bloodletting' and more," 25 Mar. 2018 The truth in the fable Mr Carey’s story ends badly for the statisticians. The Economist, "China’s statistics are bad. Many criticisms of them are worse," 7 July 2018 Coppelia Long Beach Ballet stages the classic fable about a young man who falls in love with a life-sized dancing doll. Matt Cooper, latimes.com, "The week ahead in L.A. dance, May 27-June 3: BodyTraffic, 'Coppelia' and more," 27 May 2018 Economists and central bankers have long tried to put numbers to the Goldilocks fable. Harriet Torry, WSJ, "Unemployment Plunge Raises Stakes in Fed’s Goldilocks Conundrum," 6 May 2018 The show features a Native American ensemble that performs indigenous songs and dances to illuminate fables from Native American lore. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "New Victory Theater Season Will Bring Circus Acts and Songs," 21 June 2018 Two years ago, after work in food retail, and teaching culinary students at Cuyahoga Community College, Mingrone created Stone Soup, a nonprofit named after a fable about food sharing. Debbi Snook, cleveland.com, "Cleveland's food rescuers help feed the hungry, grow more food (photos, recipes)," 18 Apr. 2018 The bilingual production is a new adaptation of the classic fable. Anne Nickoloff, cleveland.com, "9 things to do in Akron, Summit County the week of May 7-13," 7 May 2018

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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Statistics for fable

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fable

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

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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 \

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

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Comments on fable

What made you want to look up fable? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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