[fey-buh l]
See more synonyms for fable on Thesaurus.com
  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 for fable

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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 of fables

Historical Examples of fables

  • 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.


    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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


    Ralph Waldo Emerson

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

British Dictionary definitions for fables


  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
  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 for fable

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



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