General English

Information & Library Science

  • noun a short story which aims to teach a moral lesson

Media Studies

  • noun a short story with a moral, especially one in which the characters are animals
  • noun a story about supernatural, mythological, or legendary characters and events

Origin & History of “fable”

The Indo-European base *bha- ‘speak’ has produced a wide range of English words, including (via Germanic) ban and (via Latin fārī ‘speak’) affable, confess, fairy, fame, fate, ineffable, infant, nefarious, and profess. Fable is a member of this latter group; it comes via Old French fable from Latin fābula ‘narrative, story’ (source also of English fabulous (15th c.)), which was a derivative of fārī. Fib (17th c.) is probably short for an earlier fible-fable ‘nonsense’, a fanciful reduplication of fable.