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 fable (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 fable (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 When explaining the wreckage caused by the pandemic, Portland doughnut purveyor Katie Poppe trots out the old fable about the cow, the buffalo and the thunderstorm. oregonlive, "After 13-months of crisis, Blue Star Donuts lives on," 18 Apr. 2021 In that moral fable, a merchant sends his servant to the Baghdad market for provisions. Shawn Tully, Fortune, "Is now a good time to buy stocks? Not according to this famed metric," 8 Apr. 2021 WeWork, in a way, is a fable from the era that just ended. Lauren Puckett, Town & Country, "Hulu's WeWork Doc Director Jed Rothstein on the Mythology and Tragedy of the Unicorn's Downfall," 4 Apr. 2021 Next on May 21 and 22 is the classic musical Guys and Dolls, a musical fable of Broadway, based on a story and characters of Damon Runyon; music and lyrics by Frank Loesser and book by Joe Swerling and Abe Burrows. courant.com, "Community News For The Windham Edition," 26 Mar. 2021 Wallis’s captivating central turn as a defiant six-year-old living on a Louisiana bayou that imbues Benh Zeitlin’s tender fable with magic and earned the young performer a best-actress nomination at the 2013 Oscars. Radhika Seth, Vogue, "11 of the Youngest Acting Nominees in Oscar History," 21 Mar. 2021 Once Upon a Time — from beginning to end, Chika takes control of her narrative and spins it into a modern fable. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "First Out: New Music From Chika, Phoebe Bridgers, Shaed & More," 12 Mar. 2021 Yes, this is an adaptation of the famous fable about the tiny chicken who thinks the sky is falling. Josh Spiegel, Vulture, "A Crash Course in the History of Disney Animation Through Disney+," 11 Jan. 2021 The Silence is more of an urban, contemporary fable of horror, if the end to electronic communications is your idea of horror. Alexander Chee, The New Republic, "Life in the Post-Internet Dystopia," 29 Dec. 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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Learn More about fable

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

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fable. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

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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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