parable

noun
par·​a·​ble | \ ˈper-ə-bəl How to pronounce parable (audio) , ˈpa-rə- \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for parable

Synonyms

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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."

Examples of parable in a Sentence

He told the children a parable about the importance of forgiveness. the parable of the Good Samaritan
Recent Examples on the Web To American policymakers, Iran became a parable about the political perils in the fall of a friendly strongman. David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, "How Chase Bank Chairman Helped the Deposed Shah of Iran Enter the U.S.," 29 Dec. 2019 Parasite Speaking of shifting loyalties, no one navigated that line better than Bong Joon Ho with his parable about poor versus rich. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Heat Vision's Top 10 Movies of 2019," 31 Dec. 2019 Well, there was an article out today about journalists in Pakistan starting to speak in parable in the newspapers to avoid censors from the military. Lane Florsheim, WSJ, "Idra Novey Wrote a #MeToo Novel Before the #MeToo Movement," 5 Nov. 2018 Queen & Slim will shade complexity into its political parable. Darren Franich, EW.com, "Queen & Slim is an old-fashioned road picture set in a brutally modern America: Review," 25 Nov. 2019 Starring Judy Garland as Esther amid an ensemble cast as the rest of the Smith family and their various beaus, the movie was a perfect wartime parable for the struggle to keep the family unit together in difficult times. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "13 classic holiday films to watch with their modern Christmas counterparts," 6 Dec. 2019 As a parable of the power of sports, the story is irresistible. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "The N.B.A. and China and the Myths of Sports Diplomacy," 22 Oct. 2019 In March this newspaper described Mr Netanyahu’s tenure as a parable of modern populism. The Economist, "The reign of Bibi Netanyahu is ending," 19 Sep. 2019 Like the parable of the blind men and the elephant, Benji’s is a different culinary beast. Anchorage Daily News, "A patisserie, boba parlor, sandwich shop and chowder house under one roof," 23 Oct. 2019

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.

See More

First Known Use of parable

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for 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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about parable

Time Traveler for parable

Time Traveler

The first known use of parable was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about parable

Statistics for parable

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Parable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/parable. Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for parable

parable

noun
How to pronounce parable (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of parable

: 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

noun
par·​a·​ble | \ ˈper-ə-bəl How to pronounce parable (audio) \

Kids Definition of parable

: a simple story that teaches a moral lesson

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on parable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with parable

Spanish Central: Translation of parable

Nglish: Translation of parable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parable for Arabic Speakers

Comments on parable

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

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Add Diction

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

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!