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

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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 The film, a Western fable about two aimless travelers in Oregon Territory of the 1820s, was released in theaters by A24 in early March, shortly before cinemas closed nationwide, and on video-on-demand in July. Jake Coyle, Star Tribune, "Chadwick Boseman, 'First Cow' among Gotham Award nominees," 12 Nov. 2020 Imagine Theatre uses modern puppetry to retell the traditional Chinese fable in this show for kids 4 and older. Los Angeles Times, "17 culture picks: Jon Hamm, Luis Alfaro, Chicano Batman and Bourne’s swans," 12 Nov. 2020 The sociologist Max Weber spent much of his life seduced by this second fable. Corey Robin, The New Yorker, "The Professor and the Politician," 12 Nov. 2020 This fable seems to have worked for his supporters, electrifying them with its evidence of their leader’s indefatigability. Fintan O’toole, The New York Review of Books, "Democracy’s Afterlife," 10 Nov. 2020 This very American fable has been blessed with three remarkable performances, two from England. Mark Kennedy, Detroit Free Press, "‘Jungleland’ treads old paths but hits hard," 6 Nov. 2020 This very American fable has been blessed with three remarkable performances, two from England. Mark Kennedy, chicagotribune.com, "‘Jungleland’ review: Treading old paths but boxing road trip still hits hard," 4 Nov. 2020 As the late author David Foster Wallace tells the fable in an unusually famous commencement address, the young fish doesn’t know what water is. Clarence Page Chicago Tribune (tns), Star Tribune, "Why I wince when I hear the words 'white privilege'," 16 Sep. 2020 The backstory of the piece is a Chinese fable in which the heavens are ripped asunder, unleashing calamity, until the goddess Nüwa rises to suture the tear and save humankind. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "Gorgeous new NOMA show includes translucent silk clouds raining 4,000 glinting needles," 13 Oct. 2020

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for fable

Last Updated

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fable. Accessed 28 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for fable


How to pronounce fable (audio)

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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