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fa·​ble ˈfā-bəl How to pronounce fable (audio)
: a fictitious narrative or statement: such as
: a legendary story of supernatural happenings
Minerva is in fables said, from Jove without a mother to proceedSir John Davies
: 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.
: falsehood, lie
The story that he won the battle single-handedly is a mere fable.


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

intransitive verb

archaic : to tell fables

transitive verb

: to talk or write about as if true
fabler noun

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.
Recent Examples on the Web
So does Bella's self-empowerment mean Poor Things is a feminist fable? Christian Holub, EW.com, 21 Feb. 2024 The story is the stuff of fables: A boy, a girl and two fathers who concoct a feud to try to bring them together. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 15 Aug. 2023 This is the one of the oldest fables asking what is the price of greatness. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Jan. 2024 The Christian fable potently compresses the Jewish stories of suffering into a single story, unfolding over a single year. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 21 Aug. 2023 As corporate cheerleading goes, this is an enduring fable. Michael Serazio, Fortune, 25 Dec. 2023 Few filmmakers can claim the same heights of whimsy, artistry and storytelling as writer-director Hayao Miyazaki, whose modern-day fables seem to prove that having one’s head in the clouds isn’t a fault, but a virtue — in more ways than one. Maya Phillips, New York Times, 8 Dec. 2023 They can be thought of as fables without the intention to deceit. Greg Licholai, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Earlier Yiddish writers had been comfortably parochial, reflecting everyday life in comic anecdotes or bittersweet fables. Adam Kirsch, The New Yorker, 27 Nov. 2023
Reiner and Goldman betray the instructional tradition that fables and legends pass on. Armond White, National Review, 7 Feb. 2024 In New Orleans, fabled slow-growing and tall century old Royal Palms that lined stately main thoroughfares in the oldest part of the city died en masse, and were reported to be irreplaceable. Erik Klemetti, Discover Magazine, 18 May 2010 The modern fable the screenplay by Everett Freeman tells, based on an original by Herbert Clyde Lewis and Frederick Stephani, with additional dialogue by Vick Knight, is, in a word, brilliant entertainment. Jack D. Grant, The Hollywood Reporter, 11 Dec. 2022 Malcolm McDowell does in Stanley Kubrick’s still-shocking 1971 fable about street thugs in a dystopian Britain. Los Angeles Times, 11 Aug. 2022 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 See More

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

Word History



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"

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

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

Dictionary Entries Near fable

Cite this Entry

“Fable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fable. Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a short fictitious story
especially : one intended to teach a lesson and in which animals speak and act like human beings

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