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’
    • ‘One well-known myth about Dionysus concerns the invention of wine.’
    • ‘Another similar myth is the story of Cybele and Attis.’
    • ‘One Palauan myth recounts the story of a magical breadfruit tree that the child of the sun provided for his human mother.’
    • ‘Welsh culture was based on an oral tradition of legends, myths, and folktales passed down from generation to generation.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Children were once told fairytales, myths, legends and fables because they had a meaning, a moral or a special psychological relevance.’
    • ‘I probably know more ancient myths and stories than they ever will.’
    • ‘It's part of the storyteller's role to collect traditional stories, myths, legends, folktales, tall stories, from locals he/she meets.’
    • ‘Gold is the one metal that transcends fashion because of its many traditional associations with myths, legends, folklore and spirituality.’
    • ‘The hill tribes have a strong oral tradition that consists of myths, legends, stories, and group knowledge.’
    • ‘He led a nation secure in its past, with a strong oral tradition of myths and legends, but one somewhat behind the social change wrought in the rest of north Europe.’
    • ‘The sagas, legends, myths and histories which have been passed on orally or in written documents by ancient peoples are sometimes called pseudohistory.’
    • ‘The movie, a tale of myths surrounding ancient treasure, will be released in Hong Kong and across South East Asia on July 26.’
    • ‘Classic Norse myth is rife with stories concerning Loki's attempts to subvert Odin's authority, and Odin's retaliatory actions.’
    • ‘The proposed link between the grail episode and early Celtic myth was not the only suggestion put forward to explain the grail.’
    • ‘There are ancient myths of creation and heroes that resemble those in Chinese mythology.’
    • ‘This can be seen through the ages, from ancient folklore and myths such as vampires and ghosts, which still have great power even in modern, scientific times.’
    • ‘The Thais had a traditional creation myth before the arrival of the Buddhist religion.’
    • ‘Let them think the story, this story, is a myth, a legend, an embroidered tale.’
    • ‘Is it because nobody's writing scripts for that kind of theatre that we keep going back to all these ancient myths and stories?’
    • ‘In later Greek myth Hecate is presented as the daughter of Hera and Zeus.’
    • ‘Her work is imbued with a keen sense of the macabre and the wittily surreal and draws heavily on symbolism and themes derived from traditional fairy tales and folk myths.’
    • ‘Each begins with the assumption that ancient myths are not myths but historical and scientific texts.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Why do I believe in an ancient book that some say is a book of legends, myths, fables, and ancient history?’
    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's one of the great myths, this idea that you can directly derive a creature's temperament from its diet.’
    • ‘Nonetheless, it is a myth that persists as widely accepted conventional wisdom.’
    • ‘For example, how widely were hunting myths like these spread throughout Europe?’
    • ‘In a neat twist, the myth is now so widely believed that many people really are changing their behaviour as a result.’
    • ‘Allow me to dispel a few popular myths about US taxes.’
    • ‘For example, in AIDS trials in South Africa myths and beliefs about the disease hamper progress and treatment is unavailable to most patients.’
    • ‘It is widely regarded as a myth, but could it actually be true?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘These myths were widely believed because they seemed to support the idea of evolutionary naturalism.’
    • ‘However, Kay wants to expose this belief as a fashion myth.’
    • ‘This chapter should help to dispel the popular myth of ‘genetic determinism’, the view that our genes determine our phenotype.’
    • ‘It aims at creating awareness about the snakes among the rural populace and also to dispel the many myths surrounding the reptiles.’
    • ‘The myth consists in the belief that only deflation entails unequal and arbitrary burdens for the citizens.’
    • ‘One of the most widely believed myths in America today is the belief that corporations are an inherent part of capitalism.’
    • ‘Of course it was a myth, but the idea gave people hope.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Among the most common myths is the belief that it is contagious or caused by poor hygiene.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘But, then, ignorance of the facts is a great aid to belief in myths.’
    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’
      • ‘Both major political parties propagate myths about young people.’
      • ‘In more recent times, myths and fabrications were used to justify America and Britain's Gulf War of 1991.’
      • ‘His analyses of objects, media and other signs often seek to debunk the myths, or false representations, that surround them and appear natural.’
      • ‘I hope to see a few myths and untruths put to bed in 2004, but first a confession.’
      • ‘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’
      • ‘His secret masters of the world may be a myth, but imagining they exist can make for an enjoyable reading experience.’
      • ‘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.’
    3. 2.3 An exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing.
      ‘the book is a scholarly study of the Churchill myth’
      • ‘There are myths and distorted concepts out there that may not be true.’
      • ‘Well, I think, to some extent, the liberal media was always a myth and exaggeration.’
      • ‘Racial conflicts are being encouraged with vastly exaggerated figures and myths.’
      • ‘The film is a myth about idealism and adulthood.’
      • ‘The Western myth looms large in the American imagination, but the place and its people are not well understood.’
      • ‘Idealized, regressive myths of a better, more magical time and place are a poor platform for making art.’
      • ‘The obvious answer is that this new meme spread so fast because it piggybacks with a very old meme, the myth of Christian persecution.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Here we encounter the second major difference between the science and the myth.’
      • ‘Pati demolishes the myth of a monolithic Christianity by presenting the details of the rebellion of the Mundas of Gangpur, a princely state.’
      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.