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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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 The screwball shifts in tone somehow cohere into a biting parable of haves and have-nots. The Economist, "Creepy crawlies The Oscars triumph of “Parasite”," 13 Feb. 2020 After West and his choir sang for about 50 minutes, Tyson, senior pastor of Placerita Bible Church in Los Angeles, came to the stage, stood next to West and preached a sermon on the parable of the prodigal son. al, "Kanye West raps at Scott Dawson event in Pigeon Forge," 19 Jan. 2020 His podcast title is based on an old parable about two metaphorical wolves who battle within us. Savvy Psychologist Ellen Hendriksen, Scientific American, "How to Quit Opioids," 21 Sep. 2019 There’s an old parable of a person leaving the pub late at night and searching in vain for his keys under a streetlamp. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "“Move fast and break things” won’t make self-driving cars safe," 20 July 2019 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,, "Queen & Slim is an old-fashioned road picture set in a brutally modern America: Review," 25 Nov. 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.

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

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Last Updated

20 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Parable.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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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


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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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

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