noun par·a·ble \ ˈper-ə-bəl , ˈpa-rə- \
|Updated on: 7 Aug 2018

Definition of parable

: a usually short fictitious story that illustrates a moral attitude or a religious principle
  • the Biblical parable of the Good Samaritan
; also : something (such as a news story or a series of real events) likened to a parable in providing an instructive example or lesson
  • In some ways, his life is a parable of the corrupting effect of great wealth, for he always assumed that everyone was after his money and out to cheat him.
  • —Gavin Stamp
  • By the summer of 2014, 380 House members and 74 senators had signed on as sponsors …. The ABLE Act had become a force. Yet in a parable of how Washington works, the bill still had a long way to go.
  • —Gail Russell Chaddock

parable was our Word of the Day on 11/05/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of parable in a Sentence

  1. He told the children a parable about the importance of forgiveness.

  2. the parable of the Good Samaritan

Recent Examples of parable from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'parable.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Did You Know?

Parable comes to us via Anglo-French from the Late Latin word parabola, which in turn comes from Greek parabolē, meaning "comparison." The word parabola may look familiar if you remember your geometry. The mathematical "parabola" refers to a kind of comparison between a fixed point and a straight line, resulting in a parabolic curve; it came to English from New Latin (Latin as used since the end of the medieval period, especially in scientific description and classification). "Parable," however, descends from Late Latin (the Latin language used by writers in the 3rd to 6th centuries). The Late Latin term parabola referred to verbal comparisons: it essentially meant "allegory" or "speech." Other English descendants of Late Latin parabola are "parole" and "palaver."

Origin and Etymology of parable

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Late Latin parabola, from Greek parabolē comparison, from paraballein to compare, from para- + ballein to throw — more at devil

parable Synonyms

PARABLE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of parable for English Language Learners

  • : a short story that teaches a moral or spiritual lesson; especially : one of the stories told by Jesus Christ and recorded in the Bible

PARABLE Defined for Kids


noun par·a·ble \ ˈper-ə-bəl \

Definition of parable for Students

: a simple story that teaches a moral lesson

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