- The definition of a legend is a story handed down through generations which is believed to be historical.
An example of legend is King Arthur.
The story of King Arthur is an example of a legend.Licensed from iStockPhoto
- a story handed down for generations among a people and popularly believed to have a historical basis, although not verifiable
- all such stories belonging to a particular group of people: famous in Irish legend
- a notable person whose deeds or exploits are much talked about in his or her own time
- the stories of his or her exploits
- an inscription on a coin, coat of arms, etc.
- a title, brief description, or key accompanying an illustration or map
Origin: Middle English legende from Old French from Midieval Latin legenda, things to read, neuter plural of Classical Latin legendus, gerund, gerundive of legere, to read: see logic
Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
- a. An unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical.b. A body or collection of such stories.c. A romanticized or popularized myth of modern times.
- One that inspires legends or achieves legendary fame.
- a. An inscription or a title on an object, such as a coin.b. An explanatory caption accompanying an illustration.c. An explanatory table or list of the symbols appearing on a map or chart.
Origin: Middle English, from Old French legende, from Medieval Latin (lēctiō) legenda, (lesson) to be read, from Latin, feminine gerundive of legere, to read; see leg- in Indo-European roots.Usage Note: Legend comes from the Latin adjective legenda, “for reading, to be read,” which referred only to written stories, not to traditional stories transmitted orally from generation to generation. This restriction also applied to the English word legend when it was first used in the late 14th century in reference to written accounts of saints' lives, but ever since the 15th century legend has been used to refer to traditional stories as well. Today a legend can also be a person or achievement worthy of inspiring such a story—anyone or anything whose fame promises to be enduring, even if the renown is created more by the media than by oral tradition. Thus we speak of the legendary accomplishments of a major-league baseball star or the legendary voice of a famous opera singer. This usage is common journalistic hyperbole, and 55 percent of the Usage Panel accepts it.