Definition of myth in English:



  • 1A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events:

    ‘ancient Celtic myths’
    [mass noun] ‘the heroes of Greek myth’
    • ‘In Greek myth, the story of the Crab is not a tale of heroic glory, but rather a celebration of loyalty, persistence and determination.’
    • ‘I think the timocratic structure of divinity in early Greek myth might be quite a good thing to apply to the tale of Eris, the apple and the Trojan War.’
    • ‘Its legend in Norse myth shows how Odin won it for the Gods and tells that it was brewed from the blood of Kvasir, the poet.’
    • ‘In later Greek myth Hecate is presented as the daughter of Hera and Zeus.’
    • ‘The proposed link between the grail episode and early Celtic myth was not the only suggestion put forward to explain the grail.’
    • ‘Classic Norse myth is rife with stories concerning Loki's attempts to subvert Odin's authority, and Odin's retaliatory actions.’
    folk tale, story, folk story, legend, tale, fable, saga, allegory, parable, tradition, lore, folklore
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  • 2A widely held but false belief or idea:

    ‘the belief that evening primrose oil helps to cure eczema is a myth, according to dermatologists’
    • ‘It is widely regarded as a myth, but could it actually be true?’
    • ‘It's one of the great myths, this idea that you can directly derive a creature's temperament from its diet.’
    • ‘This chapter should help to dispel the popular myth of ‘genetic determinism’, the view that our genes determine our phenotype.’
    • ‘Of course it was a myth, but the idea gave people hope.’
    • ‘But, then, ignorance of the facts is a great aid to belief in myths.’
    • ‘At the top of their list of myths was the idea that males are primarily interested in objects and females are primarily interested in people.’
    • ‘He said the average customers were men who gambled at weekends, dispelling the popular myth that housewives were behind the rise in the popularity of poker.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, it is a myth that persists as widely accepted conventional wisdom.’
    • ‘In a neat twist, the myth is now so widely believed that many people really are changing their behaviour as a result.’
    • ‘It aims at creating awareness about the snakes among the rural populace and also to dispel the many myths surrounding the reptiles.’
    • ‘However, Kay wants to expose this belief as a fashion myth.’
    • ‘In addition, she said there was a need to dispel some of the myths around cocaine such as the notion that it is relatively safe and relatively clean.’
    • ‘For example, in AIDS trials in South Africa myths and beliefs about the disease hamper progress and treatment is unavailable to most patients.’
    • ‘These myths were widely believed because they seemed to support the idea of evolutionary naturalism.’
    • ‘As such, this book attempts to burst the bubble of the super-mom myth, the idea that one can juggle both tasks, and succeed at both.’
    • ‘Among the most common myths is the belief that it is contagious or caused by poor hygiene.’
    • ‘The myth consists in the belief that only deflation entails unequal and arbitrary burdens for the citizens.’
    • ‘Allow me to dispel a few popular myths about US taxes.’
    • ‘For example, how widely were hunting myths like these spread throughout Europe?’
    • ‘One of the most widely believed myths in America today is the belief that corporations are an inherent part of capitalism.’
    belief, old wives' tale, notion
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    1. 2.1 A misrepresentation of the truth:
      ‘attacking the party's irresponsible myths about privatization’
      • ‘His analyses of objects, media and other signs often seek to debunk the myths, or false representations, that surround them and appear natural.’
      • ‘In more recent times, myths and fabrications were used to justify America and Britain's Gulf War of 1991.’
      • ‘I hope to see a few myths and untruths put to bed in 2004, but first a confession.’
      • ‘Both major political parties propagate myths about young people.’
      • ‘By the time the number of examples of myths, false assertions and cases of deliberate disinformation had reached 40 I reckoned it was time to publish them.’
    2. 2.2 A fictitious or imaginary person or thing:
      ‘nobody had ever heard of Simon's mysterious friend—Anna said he was a myth’
      • ‘It should not surprise anyone if it turns out that Jean Houston's autobiography is a piece of fiction, a heroic myth spun by her imagination out of the fabric of her desires.’
      • ‘His secret masters of the world may be a myth, but imagining they exist can make for an enjoyable reading experience.’
    3. 2.3 An exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing:
      ‘the book is a scholarly study of the Churchill myth’
      • ‘Pati demolishes the myth of a monolithic Christianity by presenting the details of the rebellion of the Mundas of Gangpur, a princely state.’
      • ‘The obvious answer is that this new meme spread so fast because it piggybacks with a very old meme, the myth of Christian persecution.’
      • ‘Here we encounter the second major difference between the science and the myth.’
      • ‘The Western myth looms large in the American imagination, but the place and its people are not well understood.’
      • ‘Racial conflicts are being encouraged with vastly exaggerated figures and myths.’
      • ‘Idealized, regressive myths of a better, more magical time and place are a poor platform for making art.’
      • ‘And then the third one, the Christian myth about perfectibility not here and now in this world, but in some future time and place.’
      • ‘I guess it was an exaggeration of the collective myths all families spin around themselves.’
      • ‘The film is a myth about idealism and adulthood.’
      • ‘Well, I think, to some extent, the liberal media was always a myth and exaggeration.’
      • ‘There are myths and distorted concepts out there that may not be true.’
      misconception, fallacy, mistaken belief, false notion, misbelief, old wives' tale, fairy story, fairy tale, fiction, fantasy, delusion, figment of the imagination
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Mid 19th century: from modern Latin mythus, via late Latin from Greek muthos.