mid-13c., parabol, modern form from early 14c., "saying or story in which something is expressed in terms of something else," from Old French parable "parable, parabolic style in writing" (13c.), from Latin parabola "comparison," from Greek parabole "a comparison, parable," literally "a throwing beside," hence "a juxtaposition," from para- "alongside" (see para- (1)) + bole "a throwing, casting, beam, ray," related to ballein "to throw" (from PIE root *gwele- "to throw, reach").
Replaced Old English bispell. In Vulgar Latin, parabola took on the meaning "word," hence Italian parlare, French parler "to speak" (see parley (n.)).
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