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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for myth

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web From the week the votes were cast last November, Johnson helped spread Trump’s lie that the election was stolen, helped perpetuate the myth that voter fraud cost the former president the election. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Editorial: Ron Johnson's whitewash of the U.S. Capitol riot shows why Wisconsin's senior senator has to go," 18 Feb. 2021 The group takes its name from the myth that only 3% percent of American colonists took up arms against the British army during the American Revolution. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "Judge says Wylie man seen at Capitol during riot can face detention hearing in D.C.," 28 Jan. 2021 That’s why the labor-of-love myth is so effective in aiding it. Jonathan Malesic, The New Republic, "You Don’t Have to Love Your Job," 21 Jan. 2021 Another myth is that the government is like a household. Arkansas Online, "Stimulus will outweigh costs," 5 Dec. 2020 Won’t Love You Back, employers across industries have appealed to the myth that work is love to justify these very conditions. Jonathan Malesic, The New Republic, "You Don’t Have to Love Your Job," 21 Jan. 2021 Another, on a lighter note, tells the story of the Greek myth of Narcissus. James T. Norman, chicagotribune.com, "Mundelein High School livestreams one-act plays over weekend," 21 Dec. 2020 Hahn’s mermaids are women with power and agency, women of both myth and history. Susan Larson, NOLA.com, "Diving deep and surfacing: Former Times-Picayune restaurant critic writes her first novel," 21 Dec. 2020 This logic, wedded to the capitalist myth of the survival of the fittest at all costs, conveniently ignores the fragility of publishing. Chad W. Post, Los Angeles Times, "Commentary: The latest publishing mega-merger might kill off small presses — and literary diversity," 4 Dec. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about myth

Statistics for myth

Last Updated

28 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Myth.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/myth. Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

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.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on myth

What made you want to look up myth? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Who Knew?

True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!