Definition of myth in English:



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

    • ‘Each begins with the assumption that ancient myths are not myths but historical and scientific texts.’
    • ‘Why do I believe in an ancient book that some say is a book of legends, myths, fables, and ancient history?’
    • ‘Children were once told fairytales, myths, legends and fables because they had a meaning, a moral or a special psychological relevance.’
    • ‘The sagas, legends, myths and histories which have been passed on orally or in written documents by ancient peoples are sometimes called pseudohistory.’
    • ‘Another similar myth is the story of Cybele and Attis.’
    • ‘The hill tribes have a strong oral tradition that consists of myths, legends, stories, and group knowledge.’
    • ‘It's part of the storyteller's role to collect traditional stories, myths, legends, folktales, tall stories, from locals he/she meets.’
    • ‘Is it because nobody's writing scripts for that kind of theatre that we keep going back to all these ancient myths and stories?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘One Palauan myth recounts the story of a magical breadfruit tree that the child of the sun provided for his human mother.’
    • ‘One well-known myth about Dionysus concerns the invention of wine.’
    • ‘The Thais had a traditional creation myth before the arrival of the Buddhist religion.’
    • ‘There are ancient myths of creation and heroes that resemble those in Chinese mythology.’
    • ‘I probably know more ancient myths and stories than they ever will.’
    • ‘Let them think the story, this story, is a myth, a legend, an embroidered tale.’
    • ‘Gold is the one metal that transcends fashion because of its many traditional associations with myths, legends, folklore and spirituality.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Welsh culture was based on an oral tradition of legends, myths, and folktales passed down from generation to generation.’
    • ‘The movie, a tale of myths surrounding ancient treasure, will be released in Hong Kong and across South East Asia on July 26.’
    • ‘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.’
    folk tale, story, folk story, legend, tale, fable, saga, allegory, parable, tradition, lore, folklore
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    1. 1.1Traditional stories or legends collectively.
      [mass noun] ‘the heroes of Greek myth’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In later Greek myth Hecate is presented as the daughter of Hera and Zeus.’
      • ‘In Greek myth, the story of the Crab is not a tale of heroic glory, but rather a celebration of loyalty, persistence and determination.’
      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.

    ‘he wants to dispel the myth that sea kayaking is too risky or too strenuous’
    ‘there is a popular myth that corporations are big people with lots of money’
    • ‘Among the most common myths is the belief that it is contagious or caused by poor hygiene.’
    • ‘But, then, ignorance of the facts is a great aid to belief in myths.’
    • ‘Allow me to dispel a few popular myths about US taxes.’
    • ‘It is widely regarded as a myth, but could it actually be true?’
    • ‘One of the most widely believed myths in America today is the belief that corporations are an inherent part of capitalism.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In a neat twist, the myth is now so widely believed that many people really are changing their behaviour as a result.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For example, in AIDS trials in South Africa myths and beliefs about the disease hamper progress and treatment is unavailable to most patients.’
    • ‘However, Kay wants to expose this belief as a fashion myth.’
    • ‘It aims at creating awareness about the snakes among the rural populace and also to dispel the many myths surrounding the reptiles.’
    • ‘These myths were widely believed because they seemed to support the idea of evolutionary naturalism.’
    • ‘For example, how widely were hunting myths like these spread throughout Europe?’
    • ‘This chapter should help to dispel the popular myth of ‘genetic determinism’, the view that our genes determine our phenotype.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The myth consists in the belief that only deflation entails unequal and arbitrary burdens for the citizens.’
    • ‘Of course it was a myth, but the idea gave people hope.’
    belief, old wives' tale, notion
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    1. 2.1A misrepresentation of the truth.
      ‘attacking the party's irresponsible myths about privatization’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Both major political parties propagate myths about young people.’
    2. 2.2A fictitious or imaginary person or thing.
      • ‘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. 2.3An exaggerated or idealized conception of a person or thing.
      ‘the book is a scholarly study of the Churchill myth’
      • ‘The obvious answer is that this new meme spread so fast because it piggybacks with a very old meme, the myth of Christian persecution.’
      • ‘I guess it was an exaggeration of the collective myths all families spin around themselves.’
      • ‘The Western myth looms large in the American imagination, but the place and its people are not well understood.’
      • ‘The film is a myth about idealism and adulthood.’
      • ‘Here we encounter the second major difference between the science and the myth.’
      • ‘Idealized, regressive myths of a better, more magical time and place are a poor platform for making art.’
      • ‘Racial conflicts are being encouraged with vastly exaggerated figures and myths.’
      • ‘Pati demolishes the myth of a monolithic Christianity by presenting the details of the rebellion of the Mundas of Gangpur, a princely state.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And then the third one, the Christian myth about perfectibility not here and now in this world, but in some future time and place.’
      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.