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.


  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

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.

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