\ 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


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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 Almost every musical telling of this myth has a moment when Orpheus sings a song that so enchants the gatekeepers of the underworld that he is given permission to enter and reclaim his wife. New York Times, "Review: ‘Eurydice,’ a New Opera, Looks Back All Too Tamely," 3 Feb. 2020 Even though this myth persists, a 2016 paper published by the National Parks Service examined existing research and found no substantial evidence that bears are more attracted to the smell of human menstrual blood than to any other odors. Sara Coughlin, SELF, "Hiking or Camping on Your Period? Here's How to Deal," 30 Jan. 2020 But the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club has declared Phil the authoritative groundhog in this quirky myth. Sam Ruland, USA TODAY, "Groundhog Day 2020 weather forecast: How likely is it Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow?," 30 Jan. 2020 Every group — educated, uneducated; rich, poor; liberal, conservative — has fallen for this myth. Shikha Dalmia, TheWeek, "The lie of the immigrant welfare queen," 28 Jan. 2020 This particular myth, like so many others, is laced with nostalgia. Paul Lukas, The New Republic, "The Sports World’s Blue-Collar Cosplay," 24 Jan. 2020 The show performs a magic trick every night, getting audiences to hope that this ancient myth might somehow end differently this time. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "How Hadestown and the underworld came out on top in 2019," 24 Dec. 2019 Understanding the scarcity mindset, however, tends to undermine this myth. Michael Taylor,, "Taylor: Scarcity makes our brain focus — but impairs long-term financial planning," 13 Dec. 2019 How better to do that than to create this national founding myth around the Pilgrims and the Indians inviting them to take over the land? Claire Bugos, Smithsonian, "The Myths of the Thanksgiving Story and the Lasting Damage They Imbue," 27 Nov. 2019

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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Statistics for myth

Last Updated

24 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Myth.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for myth


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


\ 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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More from Merriam-Webster on myth

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for myth

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with myth

Spanish Central: Translation of myth

Nglish: Translation of myth for Spanish Speakers

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

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