c.1300, "falsehood, lie, pretense," from Old French fable (12c.) "story, fable, tale; fiction, lie, falsehood," from Latin fabula "story, play, fable, narrative, account, tale," literally "that which is told," related to fari "speak, tell," from PIE root *bha- (2) "speak" (see fame (n.)). Sense of "animal story" (early 14c.) comes from Aesop. In modern folklore terms, defined as "a short, comic tale making a moral point about human nature, usually through animal characters behaving in human ways." Most trace to Greece or India.