Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

fable

[fey-buh l]
See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
noun
  1. a short tale to teach a moral lesson, often with animals or inanimate objects as characters; apologue: the fable of the tortoise and the hare; Aesop's fables.
  2. a story not founded on fact: This biography is largely a self-laudatory fable.
  3. a story about supernatural or extraordinary persons or incidents; legend: the fables of gods and heroes.
  4. legends or myths collectively: the heroes of Greek fable.
  5. an untruth; falsehood: This boast of a cure is a medical fable.
  6. the plot of an epic, a dramatic poem, or a play.
  7. idle talk: old wives' fables.
verb (used without object), fa·bled, fa·bling.
  1. to tell or write fables.
  2. to speak falsely; lie: to fable about one's past.
verb (used with object), fa·bled, fa·bling.
  1. to describe as if actually so; talk about as if true: She is fabled to be the natural daughter of a king.

Origin of fable

1250–1300; Middle English fable, fabel, fabul < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin fābula a story, tale, equivalent to fā(rī) to speak + -bula suffix of instrument
Related formsfa·bler, nounout·fa·ble, verb (used with object), out·fa·bled, out·fa·bling.un·fa·bling, adjective
Can be confusedfable legend myth (see synonym study at legend)

Synonyms

See more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
1. See legend.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for fables

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • I have no faith in the old wives' fables that we are most miserable when we get what we want.

  • This is the effect on us of tropes, fables, oracles, and all poetic forms.

    Essays, Second Series

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • What is true of proverbs, is true of all fables, parables, and allegories.

    Nature

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • To the wise, therefore, a fact is true poetry, and the most beautiful of fables.

    Nature

    Ralph Waldo Emerson

  • I told you, Brent, there was often a factual basis for fables—remember?


British Dictionary definitions for fables

fable

noun
  1. a short moral story, esp one with animals as characters
  2. a false, fictitious, or improbable account; fiction or lie
  3. a story or legend about supernatural or mythical characters or events
  4. legends or myths collectivelyRelated adjective: fabulous
  5. archaic the plot of a play or of an epic or dramatic poem
verb
  1. to relate or tell (fables)
  2. (intr) to speak untruthfully; tell lies
  3. (tr) to talk about or describe in the manner of a fableghosts are fabled to appear at midnight
Derived Formsfabler, noun

Word Origin

C13: from Latin fābula story, narrative, from fārī to speak, say
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for fables

fable

n.

c.1300, "falsehood, lie, pretense," from Old French fable (12c.) "story, fable, tale; fiction, lie, falsehood," from Latin fabula "story, play, fable, narrative, account, tale," literally "that which is told," related to fari "speak, tell," from PIE root *bha- (2) "speak" (see fame (n.)). Sense of "animal story" (early 14c.) comes from Aesop. In modern folklore terms, defined as "a short, comic tale making a moral point about human nature, usually through animal characters behaving in human ways." Most trace to Greece or India.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper