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In Is a moral lesson a requirement for fairy tales?, the commenting crowd has pressed for clear distinguishment between whether fables or fairy tales are being discussed.

How do fables and fairy tales differ? What are their distinguishing features, and how will I know whether the story I am reading may be one or the other?

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From the dictionary definition of a fable:

A short story, typically with animals as characters, conveying a moral
Oxford Dictionaries: "Fable"

Merriam Webster defines Fairy tale as:

a story (as for children) involving fantastic forces and beings (as fairies, wizards, and goblins)

and

a story in which improbable events lead to a happy ending
Merriam-Webster: "Fairy tale"

The defining factor of a fairy tale seems to be a story involving fantastical beasts and their magical world.

A more opinionated difference: There is no hidden meaning in a fable, and it is meant to convey a moral truth. On the other hand, fairy tales weave a world of magic and leave much room for imagination and fantasy. It is up to the reader to decide if he grasps any message or just enjoys the imaginary world of fairies and elves.
Taken from differencebetween.com: "fairy tales and fables"

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    Just as a note - fairy tales in no way are required to have fairies – TrojanByAccident Jan 24 '17 at 16:44
  • Many fairy tales are leftovers from defunct religions. All fables are known fiction for the express purpose of displaying a moral. – Carpe CM Jan 24 '17 at 18:52

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