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

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

Orisha is a magical world, one rooted in African myths, that’s home to fantastic creatures, such as Lionaires — large, horned lionlike beings that double as pets and warriors. Darcel Rockett, chicagotribune.com, "Meet Tomi Adeyemi, a former Hinsdale resident who might win Jimmy Fallon's book club contest," 28 June 2018 Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend Uncle Drew (NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving) and convinces him to return to the court one more time. San Francisco Chronicle, "‘Uncle Drew’," 13 June 2018 Even more frustrating is that the situation further reinforced the stereotype of black homophobia — a myth that suggests black people are more inherently homophobic given their cultural exchanges in hip-hop and religion. Ernest Owens, Vox, "What it’s like to be black and gay watching the Kevin Hart controversy unfold.," 7 Jan. 2019 The water myth is, of course, an easy out for every person who has tried and failed to make a delicious, New York-style bagel. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "This Is How You Make a Perfect New York Bagel," 28 Dec. 2018 That's why the myth of a trigger-happy MFCO is just that. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Air Force Destroyed an Unarmed Minuteman III ICBM During a Test Gone Wrong," 31 July 2018 The model minority myth is also about social behaviors which may be reinforcing new biases. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "raceAhead: The Asian Glass Ceiling," 4 June 2018 The myth that running causes osteoarthritis and ruins your knees has long been debunked. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Running with Bad Knees Might Be OK After All," 25 May 2018 The myth of Jason is one of the most straightforward stories ever told: A boy learns of his special destiny to become king, is sent on a quest for one of history’s first MacGuffins, has to fight stuff to get it, wins. Trevor Fraser, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Review: Jason and the Argonauts - Fringe 2018," 14 May 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

7 Apr 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 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

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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