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

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 The sun succeeds by gently warming the traveler, and the moral of the fable is that gentle persuasion works better than force. Washington Post, "North Korea to face harshest U.S. sanctions yet, Pence vows," 7 Feb. 2018 Others saw it as a fable about hard work and hustle paying off. Elizabeth Raiss, refinery29.com, "Why Do We Treat A Fashion Designer Leaving A Brand Like Someone Dying?," 14 June 2018 From master story teller, Guillermo del Toro, comes THE SHAPE OF WATER - an other-worldly fable, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1962. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Advance Screening: The Shape of Water," 28 Nov. 2017 This fable-like drama involves a 30-ish chef, Antoine (Thomas Blanchard), who shows up unexpectedly to visit his ex-lover, Camille (Judith Chemla), after a five-year absence. Gary Goldstein, latimes.com, "French drama 'The Elephant and the Butterfly' spins a warm, light fable," 28 June 2018 But Verne’s influence here is less as a fantasist and more as a writer of moral fables. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction Chronicles: The Intoxicating Attraction of the Abyss," 8 June 2018 So, time to replace the boy who cried wolf fable with the host who scream apocalypse. Fox News, "Gutfeld: The state of civility," 1 July 2018 That fable is a prequel to larger popular fictions about games. Lindsay Grace, Smithsonian, "The Original ‘Space Invaders’ is an Icon of 1970s America’s Deepest Fears," 19 June 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

14 Sep 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

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the setting in which something occurs

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