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 Screenwriter Anna Symon and director Clio Barnard are translating Sarah Perry’s lush Victorian fable into an evocative six-part series starring Claire Danes and Tom Hiddleston. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 12 Apr. 2022 This performance will be an attempt to combine all 209 fairy tales into one cohesive fable, brought to life by two narrators and a team of actors. Naomi Stock, Anchorage Daily News, 7 Apr. 2022 The history of a movement, narrated as a documentary fable. Lise Pedersen, Variety, 1 Mar. 2022 Then about 20 years ago, along comes architect and historian John Crandell, who plumbed contemporary accounts to show that the Wyman fable was not true. Los Angeles Times, 19 Apr. 2022 In this way, Owen’s challenges in his not-quite-real world of Terrors, work deeply on our hearts, far more effectively than surface-level fable. oregonlive, 8 Feb. 2022 Another Asian fable that speaks to Frederick is the hungry ghost, a phantom rendered insatiable by his or her own evil deeds or intentions. Washington Post, 31 Dec. 2021 But some of the biggest crowds of the season in Mobile are for the Joe Cain Procession, a down-home mix of fun and local fable where anyone can join in a parade for free. Jay Reeves, ajc, 27 Feb. 2022 Michael Caine plays the miser Ebenezer Scrooge in this family-friendly and heart-felt 1992 adaptation of Dickens’ holiday fable. Los Angeles Times, 16 Dec. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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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The first known use of fable was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fable. Accessed 25 May. 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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