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

Landes thoroughly imbues his savage fable with animalistic playfulness that never permits forgetting its gun-throttling troop is coming of age in isolation. Carlos Aguilar, Los Angeles Times, "Review: Heaven, Earth and war collide in Alejandro Landes’ visceral ‘Monos’," 12 Sep. 2019 AP Photo/Aijaz Rahi India’s mission to the moon can well be a modern-day fable of grit and determination that inspires young minds to pursue a career in space. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Inspired by ISRO? Here’s how much money you can make in Indian space research," 10 Sep. 2019 There’s an instant kick of visceral excitement, a Pavlovian jolt, in being enveloped in a bone-familiar pop fable. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "The VOID Is Where Virtual Reality Enters the Dying Meatspace of the Mall," 23 Aug. 2019 The newest chapter in that expansive compendium of progressive myth and fable: The Verbal Assault of Representative Erica Thomas. John Hirschauer, National Review, "Erica Thomas, Mythmaker," 26 July 2019 Published in 1516, More’s fable told the story of an island kingdom that had deliberately divided itself from the mainland in order to protect its perfect society. 1843, "Love Island’s literary forebears, from Eden to The Tempest," 19 June 2019 What if there’s some modern mythological fable at work here, like Sisyphus rolling the rock or Prometheus having his liver pecked at nightly by an eagle? Dave Hyde, sun-sentinel.com, "Hyde: It’s the annual Dolphins-Are-Closer-To-Relevancy Day as Tom Brady turns 42 | Commentary," 2 Aug. 2019 The novel reads like a fable, its language often formal and overdramatized, as if to convey a sense of timelessness. Rachael Allen, The Atlantic, "Reconstructing the Memories of Aging Matriarchs," 1 Aug. 2019 The buttons are art, painted with scenes of history and fables, engraved with ornate designs and decorated with glass, rhinestones or just about anything else. oregonlive.com, "Hardcore button collectors see beauty, history in the fashion essential," 1 Aug. 2019

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

12 Oct 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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