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

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Synonyms for parable

Synonyms

allegory, apologue, fable

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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

Scorpion plays as a series of parables about the wickedness of modern life and its signal sins of greed, vanity, and pride. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Why Drake Can’t Pull Off Being the ‘Good Guy’," 5 July 2018 To be sure, the spooky tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas-eve visitation by a tag team of spirits from the great beyond appears at first blush to be a thoroughly Christian parable of the power of grace to melt the hearts of men. Terry Teachout, WSJ, "How the Movies Invented Christmas," 20 Dec. 2018 There’s a parable about a frog in a boiling pot of water on a stove. Jenny Aurthur, Longreads, "Of Breakdowns and Breakthroughs," 4 May 2018 There are long critical essays, short book reviews, reportage with a literary inflection, histories, missives, diary entries, aphorisms, parables, advice, dreams, a test, fictional excursus and, yes, lists. Zachary Fine, WSJ, "‘Attention’ Review: Anatomist of Our Disorder," 30 Aug. 2018 Almost immediately, Patience Worth began writing aphorisms and parables through the Ouija board. Joy Lanzendorfer, Longreads, "Ghost Writer: The Story of Patience Worth, the Posthumous Author," 14 June 2018 For example, there are still people who treat the myths of religion, like the Genesis story, as some kind of literal truth, even though they were understood by Jewish thinkers and theologians of the time as parables. Sean Illing, Vox, "Why science can’t replace religion," 4 Nov. 2018 In Nashville, the persistent parable of the Dixie Chicks comes up any time artists voice a political opinion. Kristin M. Hall, The Seattle Times, "Taylor Swift makes politics personal with endorsement," 10 Oct. 2018 Photo: 20th Century Fox/Everett Collection James Cameron’s 2009 3-D environmental parable remains the top-grossing movie of all time, with $2.8 billion world-wide. Joe Flint, WSJ, "Mickey Mouse, Meet Homer and the ‘Avatar’ Crew: Fox Assets Would Bolster Disney’s Franchises," 21 July 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for parable

Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

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Time Traveler for parable

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

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More Definitions for parable

parable

noun

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on parable

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with parable

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for parable

Spanish Central: Translation of parable

Nglish: Translation of parable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of parable for Arabic Speakers

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