fa·​ble | \ ˈfā-bəl How to pronounce fable (audio) \

Definition of fable

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a fictitious narrative or statement: such as
a : a legendary story of supernatural happenings Minerva is in fables said, from Jove without a mother to proceed— Sir John Davies
b : a narration intended to enforce a useful truth especially : one in which animals speak and act like human beings The theme of the fable was the folly of human vanity.
c : falsehood, lie The story that he won the battle single-handedly is a mere fable.


fabled; fabling\ ˈfā-​b(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce fable (audio) \

Definition of fable (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

archaic : to tell fables

transitive verb

: to talk or write about as if true

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Other Words from fable


fabler \ ˈfā-​b(ə-​)lər How to pronounce fable (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for fable

Synonyms: Noun

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Examples of fable in a Sentence

Noun a fable about busy ants The story that he won the battle single-handedly is a mere fable. He combines fact and fable to make a more interesting story.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Powers’s thoroughly modern fable of environmental mourning hardly needs to dredge up that cringeworthy antecedent. Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2021 For instance, one fable finds the god Lutra, an insectlike larva, furiously consuming the plants in a kelp forest — the habitat of another god. Washington Post, 20 July 2021 Mostly, though, Infinite feels like a depressing fable about the movie industry. Alison Willmore, Vulture, 10 June 2021 This operatic fable of love, celebrity, and self-destruction features tragic plotting worthy of Puccini and music by the brothers Ron and Russell Mael (best known as the band Sparks). David Sims, The Atlantic, 18 Aug. 2021 That has cleared room for some less expected titles, the best among them being an earthy horror fable set on the Mexico-Belize border. Charles Bramesco, Vulture, 23 June 2021 There’s also the possibility that there won’t be any restrictions, that the Chinese government will dismiss the previous two years as a foreign fable. BostonGlobe.com, 30 July 2021 The problem was that the Pope read the fable of the cicada in a different way. Nuno Castel-branco, Scientific American, 9 July 2021 Scales, which has been billed (not incorrectly) as a feminist fable, captivates us not with its politics or its deeper meanings but through its expert visual storytelling and its tense, fantastical atmosphere. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 10 July 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Arrebato 4K restoration of Spanish filmmaker Iván Zulueta‘s hallucinatory 1980 horror fable about a director and a heroin addict. Los Angeles Times, 26 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fable.' 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 fable


14th century, in the meaning defined above


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for fable


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French, going back to Latin fābula "talk, gossip, account, tale, legend," from fā-, stem of for, fārī "to speak, say" + -bula, feminine derivative of -bulum, instrumental suffix (going back to Indo-European *-dhlom) — more at ban entry 1


Middle English fablen, borrowed from Anglo-French fabler, fableier, going back to Latin fābulārī "to talk, converse, invent a story," verbal derivative of fābula "talk, account, fable entry 1"

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Time Traveler for fable

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

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Last Updated

2 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fable.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fable. Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of fable

: a short story that usually is about animals and that is intended to teach a lesson
: a story or statement that is not true


fa·​ble | \ ˈfā-bəl How to pronounce fable (audio) \

Kids Definition of fable

1 : a story that is not true
2 : a story in which animals speak and act like people and which is usually meant to teach a lesson

More from Merriam-Webster on fable

Nglish: Translation of fable for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fable for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about fable


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