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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The man who oversaw the dissolution of a Cold War superpower (who died this week at age 91) offered a Russian fable to explain his country's fate. CBS News, 1 Sep. 2022 What unfolds, like a La Fontaine fable, is all the more poignant for its inevitability. Claire Messud, Harper’s Magazine , 20 July 2022 Do each of your animal sculptures evoke a particular fable? Y-jean Mun-delsalle, Forbes, 1 July 2022 The Storyteller,’ a timeless fable, explores the mindset of people who exploit and are exploited. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 23 May 2022 After this clear-sighted fable, the signature fog that often swirls through Mr. Herzog’s shots descends on his thoughts, and on his prose. Boyd Tonkin, WSJ, 29 July 2022 Indeed, another Pixar film, the medieval adventure Brave, tells a similar fable of mother-daughter friction and animal transformation, but delivers its message clumsily. David Sims, The Atlantic, 9 Mar. 2022 Loyola Marymount University’s summer-long Shakespeare on the Bluff festival continues with the Bard’s fantastical fable about a deposed duke and his young daughter stranded on a magical isle. Los Angeles Times, 21 July 2022 But this appealing if slight fable from director Jim Archer and writers David Earl and Chris Hayward (expanding on their 2017 short by the same name) tugs on a different set of heartstrings. Michael O'sullivan, Washington Post, 15 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 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.

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

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

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Last Updated

8 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fable. Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for fable


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

More from Merriam-Webster on 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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