A parable is a succinct, didactic story, in prose or verse, that illustrates one or more instructive lessons or principles. It differs from a fable in that fables employ animals, plants, inanimate objects, or forces of nature as characters, whereas parables have human characters. A parable is a type of metaphorical analogy.

The Bible contains numerous parables in the Gospels of the "New Testament" (Jesus's parables). These are believed by some scholars to have been inspired by mashalim, a form of Hebrew comparison prominent in the Talmudic period (c. 2nd-6th centuries CE). Parables also appear in Islam. In Sufi tradition, parables are used for imparting lessons and values.

Modern parables also exist. A mid-19th-century example, the parable of the broken window, criticises a part of economic thinking.

A parable is a short tale that illustrates a universal truth; it is a simple narrative. It sketches a setting, describes an action, and shows the results. A parable often involves a character who faces a moral dilemma or one who makes a bad decision and then suffers the unintended consequences.

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