myth

noun
\ ˈmith \

Definition of myth

1a : a usually traditional story of ostensibly historical events that serves to unfold part of the world view of a people or explain a practice, belief, or natural phenomenon creation myths
b : parable, allegory Moral responsibility is the motif of Plato's myths.
2a : a popular belief or tradition that has grown up around something or someone especially : one embodying the ideals and institutions of a society or segment of society seduced by the American myth of individualism — Orde Coombs the utopian myth of a perfect society
b : an unfounded or false notion the myth of racial superiority
3 : a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence the Superman myth The unicorn is a myth.
4 : the whole body of myths a student of Greek myth

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Synonyms for myth

Synonyms

fable, legend, mythos

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Myth and Urban Myth

For a word so often applied to events or stories from long, long ago, myth has a remarkably recent history in the English language. The earliest evidence for the word is from 1830, well after the time when the events themselves are thought to have occurred (though it should be noted that the related words mythology and mythic are hundreds of years older – still not as old as Achilles, but not young, either!). One application of myth, however – in the phrase urban myth – is quite new. Curiously, an urban myth does not usually have anything to do with the city: it is simply “a story about an unusual event or occurrence that many people believe is true but that is not true.” An example would be the tale that Elvis Presley is still alive after spending decades in a witness protection program. The phrase urban myth has been used to describe such hoaxes since at least 1971.

Examples of myth in a Sentence

It's an enduring myth that money brings happiness. I don't believe the myths and legends about this forest. Contrary to popular myth, no monster lives in this lake.
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Recent Examples on the Web

But there are also a lot of myths and misconceptions about bipolar disorder. Cassie Shortsleeve, SELF, "12 Ways to Show Up for a Friend With Bipolar Disorder," 20 Dec. 2018 The trope of feminists burning their bras en-masse is actually a myth stemming from a women’s liberation demonstration when women tossed seemingly anti-feminist items into a trash can that was briefly set on fire. Emma Sarran Webster, Teen Vogue, "Why You Don't Have to Wear a Bra," 30 Nov. 2018 In Martin’s novella, the word comes from a myth humans learn from other aliens, but there’s no explanation for it here. Samantha Nelson, The Verge, "George R.R. Martin’s Nightflyers asks whether humanity deserves to be saved," 29 Nov. 2018 That willingness to still put up a fight, even when things seem hopeless, is part of the American creation myth. Drew Magary, GQ, "There Is Bravery in Each Other," 3 July 2018 First, understand that the whole concept of a perfect home is a myth! Gary M. Singer, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Ask a real estate pro: Tips to make house hunting easier," 29 June 2018 But there are elements of the Gatsby myth in Lucy Barton’s story, too. Isobel Thompson, A-LIST, "Centre Stage: Elizabeth Strout," 14 June 2018 Williams goes on to say that the Game Paradise staff has heard repeated assertions that the new location is in an unsafe part of town, but calls that just a myth powered by perception. Justin L. Mack, Indianapolis Star, "Why Game Paradise is closing its doors and liquidating its massive game library," 3 June 2018 The Unexpected Truth About Animals, British TV presenter Lucy Cooke upends some of these myths and shows that what actually goes on in the natural world is a far cry from these imaginary projections. National Geographic, "What You Think You Know About Animals? Probably Not True," 26 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'myth.' 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 myth

1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for myth

earlier mythos, mythus, borrowed from Greek mŷthos "utterance, speech, discourse, tale, narrative, fiction, legend," of obscure origin

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Learn More about myth

Dictionary Entries near myth

mystifiedly

mystify

mystique

myth

mythi

mythical

mythicalness

Statistics for myth

Last Updated

13 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for myth

The first known use of myth was in 1830

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More Definitions for myth

myth

noun

English Language Learners Definition of myth

: an idea or story that is believed by many people but that is not true

: a story that was told in an ancient culture to explain a practice, belief, or natural occurrence

: such stories as a group

myth

noun
\ ˈmith \

Kids Definition of myth

1 : a story often describing the adventures of beings with more than human powers that attempts to explain mysterious events (as the changing of the seasons) or that explains a religious belief or practice
2 : such stories as a group
3 : a person or thing existing only in the imagination The dragon is a myth.
4 : a popular belief that is not true It's just a myth that money can buy happiness.

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More from Merriam-Webster on myth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with myth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for myth

Spanish Central: Translation of myth

Nglish: Translation of myth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of myth for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about myth

Comments on myth

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