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

The literature of ancient America is mostly lost to us today, except for a few scattered remnants of poems, histories and myths that survived the onslaught of European contact and its waves of cultural destruction. David Stuart, WSJ, "‘The Popol Vuh’ Review: A New World Epic," 1 Feb. 2019 After a three-year reprieve, Savage returns to test myths, unfurl duct tape, and get up to the tomfoolery that made fans love the original Mythbusters so much. James Lynch, Popular Mechanics, "Adam Savage Is Back to Bust More Myths—This Time with Six Brilliant Kids," 2 Jan. 2019 As the myth goes, Odin, the god of wisdom, and his wife Frigg had a son named Baldur who was prophesied to be killed. Adam Schubak, Country Living, "Here's How Kissing Under the Mistletoe Became a Christmas Tradition," 29 Nov. 2018 Those damaging myths must be unlearned, but all too often they're perpetuated by brands who won't cast us in runway shows or in ad campaigns. Rajee Aerie, Teen Vogue, "Rajee Aerie Talks Representation for Disabled People in the Lingerie Market," 20 Nov. 2018 Chinese culture also has a collection of rich myths tied to each food that are historically significant. Ilaf Esuf, SELF, "How 10 People Cook the Foods They Grew Up With After Immigrating to the United States," 4 Jan. 2019 Still, Skaife is obsessive in his care of the birds, who are now celebrities, regardless of the misty myths. William Booth, The Seattle Times, "The secrets of the royal ravenmaster at the Tower of London," 26 Oct. 2018 More news that will get Lushies' hearts all aflutter: Now, check out eight of the biggest showering myths: Follow Allure on Instagram and Twitter, and subscribe to our newsletter for daily beauty stories delivered right to your inbox. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Lush Is Launching Super-Sized Versions of Its Best-Selling Products," 10 July 2018 On the walls of the clinic, large posters address some of the myths that feed that attitude. Katrine Jo Andersen, The New Republic, "Rejected by A.A.," 27 June 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

10 Feb 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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