noun \ ˈmith \
|Updated on: 11 Aug 2018

Definition of myth

1 a : 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.
2 a : 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

Examples of myth in a Sentence

  1. It's an enduring myth that money brings happiness.

  2. I don't believe the myths and legends about this forest.

  3. Contrary to popular myth, no monster lives in this lake.

Recent Examples of myth from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of myth

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

Other Mythology and Folklore Terms

MYTH Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of myth for English Language Learners

  • : 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 Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈmith \

Definition of myth for Students

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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