[ fey-buhl ]
See synonyms for: fablefabledfablesfabler 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.

  1. a story about supernatural or extraordinary persons or incidents; legend: the fables of gods and heroes.

  2. legends or myths collectively: the heroes of Greek fable.

  3. an untruth; falsehood: This boast of a cure is a medical fable.

  4. the plot of an epic, a dramatic poem, or a play.

  5. 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

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English fable, fabel, fabul, from Anglo-French, Old French, from Latin fābula “a story, tale,” equivalent to fā(rī) “to speak” + -bula suffix of instrument

synonym study For fable

1. See legend.

word story For fable

Fable comes via French from Latin fābula “talk, conversation, gossip or the subject of gossip, a story for entertainment or instruction, a fable.” The plural fābulae is used as an interjection meaning “nonsense! rubbish!”; the idiom lupus in fābulā, literally “the wolf in the fable,” is the equivalent of our “speak of the devil.” The derivative verb fābulārī “to talk, chat” is especially common in the comedies of Plautus and Terence.
Fābulārī, regularized to fābulāre, is the source of Spanish hablar and Portuguese falar “to speak.” Catalan, however, always influenced by French, uses parlar. French parler and Italian parlare are verbs derived from the Latin noun parabola “comparison, explanatory illustration,” in Late Latin (and especially in Christian Latin) “allegorical story, parable, proverb.”
Parabola becomes parola “word” in Italian, parole in French, paraula in Catalan. And by metathesis (transposition of letters) common in Spanish and Portuguese, parabola becomes parabla in Old Spanish, palabra in Spanish, and palavra in Portuguese.
The related English word fib “a small or trivial lie” is a shortening of earlier fibble-fable “nonsense,” an obsolete or dialectal compound based on fable, in the sense “a story not founded in fact.”

Other words from fable

  • fa·bler, noun
  • out·fa·ble, verb (used with object), out·fa·bled, out·fa·bling.
  • un·fa·bling, adjective

Words that may be confused with fable

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use fable in a sentence

  • The characterizing details of some of the great fables, however, disappear in Mandeville's English.

    Aesop Dress'd | Bernard Mandeville
  • It is not surprising that many of the fables which Mandeville chose to translate anticipate the themes of his great work.

    Aesop Dress'd | Bernard Mandeville
  • As soon as we admit of such a God, there are no longer fables or visions which can not be believed.

  • Fables were the creations of those who sought to amuse or control the people, who have ever delighted in the marvellous.

  • The Greeks adopted Oriental fables, and accommodated them to those heroes who figured in their own country in the earliest times.

British Dictionary definitions for fable


/ (ˈfeɪbəl) /

  1. a short moral story, esp one with animals as characters

  2. a false, fictitious, or improbable account; fiction or lie

  1. a story or legend about supernatural or mythical characters or events

  2. legends or myths collectively: Related adjective: fabulous

  3. 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

  1. (tr) to talk about or describe in the manner of a fable: ghosts are fabled to appear at midnight

Origin of fable

C13: from Latin fābula story, narrative, from fārī to speak, say

Derived forms of fable

  • fabler, noun

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