\ ˈmith How to pronounce myth (audio) \

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

Synonyms for myth


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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.
Recent Examples on the Web This workshop will include a historical outline of Asian and Pacific Islanders in the United States and discuss challenges such as the model minority myth, cultural stigmas, family dynamics and discrimination. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 May 2022 California accused Exxon Mobil of perpetuating a recycling ‘myth’ State Atty. Amy Hubbard, Los Angeles Times, 29 Apr. 2022 Theaters are superstitious places, sites of myth, ceremony and invocation. New York Times, 27 Apr. 2022 The tone is engaging and witty, but Glück weaves in larger and more primal themes, giving the book the feeling of a creation myth, an awakening from innocence. Hillel Italie, ajc, 25 Apr. 2022 Historians have pointed out, including in local news outlets on Thursday, that Torres’s comments are based on a myth — propagated by the Nazis — that Hitler was responsible for inventing Germany’s famous autobahn highway system. Washington Post, 8 Apr. 2022 Naturally, the streaming service wrangled some major talent for the series, including the woman, the myth, the legend, Julie Andrews. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, 25 Mar. 2022 Credo Mutwa's extraordinary insights on African philosophy, history, myth, and culture make for essential reading. The Week Staff, The Week, 20 Mar. 2022 The overall effect of the Russia-Ukraine conflict may be to separate crypto myth from reality, something that’s been happening already in the past couple years. NBC News, 6 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Myth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for myth


\ ˈmith How to pronounce myth (audio) \

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on myth

Nglish: Translation of myth for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of myth for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about myth


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