Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

What is the difference between "mythical" and "mythological"? I find these two interchangeable. Also, please give some examples.

share|improve this question

3 Answers 3

up vote 2 down vote accepted
  • mythological is from an accepted tradition of mythical stories, like the Roman or Hindu or Navaho religions.
  • mythical is anything fantastic or imaginary or fictitious.

So 'mythological is a subset of 'mythical'. The myths of the Roman religion make up Roman mythology. They are considered mythical, as are the Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. One could say that -any- fiction (like say 'Jane Eyre') is mythical because it is fiction, but there is the need for the idea of the fantastic for 'mythical' to apply.

share|improve this answer

Chambers has...

mythical adj 1 relating to myth. 2 imaginary; untrue.

mythology noun (mythologies) 1 myths in general. 2 a collection of myths, eg about a specific subject. 3 the study of myth or myths. mythological adj relating or belonging to mythology.

myth noun 1 an ancient story that deals with gods and heroes, especially one used to explain some natural phenomenon. 2 such stories in general; mythology. 3 a commonly-held, false notion. 4 a non-existent, fictitious person or thing.

So mythical is related to a [particular] ancient story. "The Minotaur is a mythical beast."

Mythological is related to a collection of mythical stories or the system of belief they describe. "In Greek Mythology, Hera was the wife of Zeus, the greatest god."

share|improve this answer

A mythical creature is one whose existence has not been proved, and hence considered non-existent. The Yeti is a mythical creature. (Maybe it will be found one day.)

A mythological figure is one described in mythology, whose existence cannot be proved. However, we do not say mythological figures never existed, because that cannot be proved either.

Mythologies generally eulogise the characters so we treat them in reverence, often as gods. Mythical creatures are mostly considered bizarre and feared.

share|improve this answer
1  
So, are you saying both, mythical and mythological, creature are non-existent but we cannot prove that they never existed. So, where's the difference? –  user20934 May 18 '12 at 9:45
    
@rudra The difference is in 'have not' and 'cannot'. A myth could one day be (dis)proved -- like I said about the Yeti -- but a mythological figure is forever what it is, real for those who beleive, virtual for others. –  Kris May 18 '12 at 9:51
    
@rudra Obviously you have read my answer in a haste. It does not say as you contend. –  Kris May 19 '12 at 3:37

protected by RegDwigнt May 25 '12 at 10:41

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?