myth

noun
\ 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

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Synonyms for myth

Synonyms

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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 All around him, Dickens saw sequestered lives, despite the liberating myth of progress. Laurence Scott, The New Yorker, "Charles Dickens, the Writer Who Saw Lockdown Everywhere," 24 Dec. 2020 With his impeccable talent for getting out of trouble while getting women into bed, Bond fed the myth of spying as a glamorous, exciting romp. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "John le Carré, Best-Selling Author of Cold War Thrillers, Dies at 89," 13 Dec. 2020 Perhaps this should come as little surprise from Greengrass, a British filmmaker who specializes in urgent dispatches from the here and now, and who has often subjected the myth of American exceptionalism to critical, dispassionate scrutiny. Justin Chang Film Critic, Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘News of the World,’ Paul Greengrass’ odd-couple western, is an admirable but bumpy ride," 11 Dec. 2020 Or maybe Trump figures that the myth of victimization will keep his political life alive, enhancing his influence in the Republican Party and even fueling a run for the presidency in 2024. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | JOHN M. CRISP: Restoring faith in our democracy," 29 Nov. 2020 My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy is, in essence, an invitation to participate in the myth of Kayne as a world-historical figure. Jack Butler, National Review, "Kanye West’s My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at Ten," 28 Nov. 2020 The myth was a revisionism of history that directly obfuscated the original purpose to have the national holiday. Jeffrey Peters, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "Peters: Time to reclaim Thanksgiving as a call to help those who are suffering | RELIGION COMMENTARY," 27 Nov. 2020 How has the the myth of the Pilgrims and Thanksgiving impacted generations? Eryn Dion, USA TODAY, "This is America: A not-so-happy Thanksgiving," 26 Nov. 2020 Obama’s memoir seems to grapple with this inconvenient problem, but the former president cannot stop believing in his own myth. Tom Mctague, The Atlantic, "The Myths That Bind Obama and Thatcher," 23 Nov. 2020

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

Statistics for myth

Last Updated

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Myth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myth. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for myth

myth

noun
How to pronounce myth (audio)

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 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.

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Comments on myth

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