fable

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English, from Old French fable, from Latin fabula, from fā(rī) (to speak, say) + -bula (instrumental suffix). See Ban, and compare fabulous, fame.

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

fable (plural fables)

  1. A fictitious narrative intended to enforce some useful truth or precept, usually with animals, etc. as characters; an apologue. Prototypically, Aesop's Fables.
    Synonyms: morality play
  2. Any story told to excite wonder; common talk; the theme of talk.
    • 1 Timothy 4:7,
      Old wives' fables.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Alfred Tennyson, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      We grew / The fable of the city where we dwelt.
    Synonyms: legend
  3. Fiction; untruth; falsehood.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Joseph Addison, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      It would look like a fable to report that this gentleman gives away a great fortune by secret methods.
  4. The plot, story, or connected series of events forming the subject of an epic or dramatic poem.
    • (Can we date this quote?), Dryden, (Please provide the book title or journal name):
      The moral is the first business of the poet; this being formed, he contrives such a design or fable as may be most suitable to the moral.

Derived terms[edit]

Translations[edit]

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Verb[edit]

fable (third-person singular simple present fables, present participle fabling, simple past and past participle fabled)

  1. (intransitive, archaic) To compose fables; hence, to write or speak fiction; to write or utter what is not true.
    • 1591, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 1, Act IV, Scene 2,[1]
      He fables not; I hear the enemy:
      Out, some light horsemen, and peruse their wings.
    • 1706, Matthew Prior, “An Ode, Humbly Inscribed to the Queen,” stanza 17, in Samuel Johnson (editor), The Works of the English Poets, London, 1779, Volume 30, p. 254,[2]
      Vain now the tales which fabling poets tell,
      That wavering Conquest still desires to rove!
      In Marlborough’s camp the goddess knows to dwell:
      Long as the hero’s life remains her love.
    • 1852, Matthew Arnold, Empedocles on Etna, Act II, in Empedocles on Etna and Other Poems, London: B. Fellowes, p. 50,[3]
      He fables, yet speaks truth.
  2. (transitive, archaic) To feign; to invent; to devise, and speak of, as true or real; to tell of falsely; to recount in the form of a fable.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book VI, lines 288-292,[4]
      [] err not, that so shall end
      The strife which thou callest evil, but we style
      The strife of glory; which we mean to win,
      Or turn this Heaven itself into the Hell
      Thou fablest []
    • 1691, Arthur Gorges (translator), The Wisdom of the Ancients by Francis Bacon (1609), London, “Cassandra, or, Divination,” [5]
      The Poets Fable, That Apollo being enamoured of Cassandra, was by her many shifts and cunning slights still deluded in his Desire []

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.


French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Latin fabula

Pronunciation[edit]

Noun[edit]

fable f (plural fables)

  1. fable, story

Synonyms[edit]

Further reading[edit]


Old French[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Latin fabula

Noun[edit]

fable f (oblique plural fables, nominative singular fable, nominative plural fables)

  1. fable, story

Synonyms[edit]