: 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
: parable, allegory
Moral responsibility is the motif of Plato's myths.
: 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
: an unfounded or false notion
the myth of racial superiority
: a person or thing having only an imaginary or unverifiable existence
the Superman myth
The unicorn is a myth.
: the whole body of myths
a student of Greek 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 Some members of the analytics community, including Bill James, who coined the term sabermetrics, contend that such a skill is a myth. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 20 Sep. 2023 Then there is the myth surrounding Kim, echoed in countless feature stories, books and blog posts. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, 15 Sep. 2023 Juice cops to the Ghost being a myth but argues that all who fly to protect Ukraine are their own ghosts of Kyiv. Stephen Rodrick, Variety, 13 Sep. 2023 Similarly, Sarr borrows from Ouologuem’s life to fashion a new origin myth for his tradition. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 11 Sep. 2023 Finally, the notion that precious metals are impervious to failure is a myth. Laxmi Corp, The Salt Lake Tribune, 11 Sep. 2023 Part biography, part fiction, how much of it is actually true matters little in an account of Thompson, for his part as much man as myth, who was rarely one to let fact get in the way of truth. Paul Fitzgerald, Rolling Stone, 7 Sep. 2023 With the success of Oppenheimer, people are sure to be talking about the man, the myth, the legend Christopher Nolan's entire visual canon. Emily Becker, Women's Health, 6 Sep. 2023 Once upon a time, in an era that now seems far, far away, the Star Wars movies and the Marvel Universe drew much of their energy from classic fairy tales and myths. Michael Dirda, Washington Post, 8 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'myth.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of myth was in 1830

Dictionary Entries Near myth

Cite this Entry

“Myth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a story often describing the adventures of superhuman beings that attempts to describe the origin of a people's customs or beliefs or to explain mysterious events (as the changing of the seasons)
: a person or thing that exists only in the imagination
the dragon is a myth
: a popular belief that is false or unsupported

More from Merriam-Webster on myth

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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