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 fabling (audio) \

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 How to pronounce fabler (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for fable

Synonyms: Noun

allegory, apologue, parable

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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

Itinerary Itinerary Encounter a land steeped in stories—from ancient fables to dramatic battle tales—on a journey to the breathtaking landscapes and enchanting villages of Scotland. National Geographic, "Scotland Private Expedition," 12 June 2019 While no one says ‘with great power comes great responsibility,’ this is about as faithful an adaptation of those old Amazing Spider-Man fables as has been brought to the screen so far. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Spider-Man: Far From Home," 24 June 2018 The immaculate single-family house was originally designed in 1952 for actress and singer Ethel Merman, according to local fable. Mario Sanelli, The Denver Post, "This iconic Cherry Hills Village home listed at $7.75 million after major renovations," 17 June 2019 The Last Black Man, which had its New York premiere on Tuesday and opens in theaters today, is equal parts fact and fable. Cori Murray, Essence, "'Last Black Man in San Francisco' Is A Must-See Film This Weekend," 7 June 2019 Collins possesses too much talent and righteous indignation to allow Frannie’s story to fizzle into a poor-girl-of-the-streets fable. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "A stunning examination of humanity, race and class," 6 June 2019 Eventually, Squeaky draws on unexpected gifts to combat the villains, in this down-to-earth fable that mixes harsh reality with redemptive hope in a bracing manner all Ms. Perry’s own. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Tales to Warm a Cold Winter’s Night," 21 Dec. 2018 The whole idea of Goblin & the Grocer is from a fable by Hans Christian Andersen. Jessi Virtusio, Post-Tribune, "Goblin & the Grocer serves ‘Midwest small plates’ and boutique wine," 5 June 2019 The result is a realist tale about labor, class, and cruelty, while also being a moral fable with a fantastical core. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "Happy as Lazzaro, a startlingly twisty Italian fairy tale, is now on Netflix," 30 Nov. 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

6 Jul 2019

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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on fable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with fable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fable

Spanish Central: Translation of 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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