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

Synonyms for parable


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Parable comes from the Latin word parabola, from Greek parabolḗ, meaning "comparison." The word parabola may look familiar if you remember your geometry. The mathematical parabola refers to a curve that is shaped like the path of something that is thrown forward and high in the air and falls back to the ground.

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 Choy and her co-director, Renee Tajima-Peña, immersed themselves in the nuances of the case, resisting the temptation to turn Chin’s death into a simple parable of victimhood. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, 23 June 2022 The trajectory that took Melville from youthful celebrity to total obscurity to, finally, posthumous renown as the author of the greatest of all American novels has become the stuff of legend, a parable about the mercurial ways of literary fortune. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 26 May 2022 Campion’s shrewdest stunt was to validate the young, murderous, fascist gay character (Kodi Smit-McPhee) — making a venal parable about generational politics. Armond White, National Review, 9 Mar. 2022 That story line is supposed to come across as a chilling parable about the excesses of business-minded gene modification, but locusts make for a far less effective adversary than a good old-fashioned tyrannosaur. David Sims, The Atlantic, 8 June 2022 That’s essentially the political parable of Corinthian Colleges, as told by Kamala Harris. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 2 June 2022 An involved apocalyptic anti-war parable narrating the fight to the death between religious zealot teddy bears and environmentalist unicorns. John Hopewell, Variety, 2 May 2022 This old-fashioned parable of sobriety, in which the untreated drunk is a scoundrel and not a wellness entrepreneur, showed up in an unexpected place this year: a sitcom on Hulu called Single Drunk Female. Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 19 Apr. 2022 The 2021 Robinhood-GameStop stock controversy may be the perfect modern parable for the redistribution of power between businesses and consumers. Euan Davis, Forbes, 26 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of parable

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for parable

Middle English parable, parabol "allegorical narrative, proverb, speech," borrowed from Anglo-French parable, going back to Late Latin parabola "comparison, allegory, proverb, discourse, speech," going back to Latin, "explanatory illustration, comparison," borrowed from Greek parabolḗ "juxtaposition, comparison," "proverb" (Septuagint), "parable" (New Testament), from parabol-, stem in noun derivation of parabállein "to cast before (as fodder for a horse), expose, set beside, compare," from para- para- entry 1 + bállein "to reach by throwing, let fly, strike, put, place" — more at devil entry 1

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

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Last Updated

15 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Parable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for parable


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

Kids Definition of parable

: a simple story that teaches a moral lesson

More from Merriam-Webster on parable

Nglish: Translation of parable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parable for Arabic Speakers


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