from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical.
  • noun A body or collection of such stories.
  • noun One that inspires legends or achieves legendary fame.
  • noun An inscription or title on an object, such as a coin.
  • noun An explanatory caption accompanying an illustration.
  • noun An explanatory table or list of the symbols appearing on a map or chart.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To narrate or celebrate in or as in a legend.
  • To furnish with an inscription; inscribe with a legend: as, “a legended tomb,”
  • noun In the early church, a selection of readings from Scripture appointed for use at divine service; later, and more especially, the chronicle or register of the lives of the saints, formerly read at matins and in the refectories of religious houses.
  • noun An entertaining story, especially in early times one relating to wonders or miracles told of a saint; hence, any unauthentic and improbable or non-historical narrative handed down from early times; a tradition.
  • noun A musical composition set to a poetical story, or intended to express such a story without words.
  • noun An inscription or device of any kind; particularly, the inscription on a shield or coat or arms, or the explanatory inscription on a monument or under a plan or drawing, or the inscription which accompanies a picture, whether descriptive or supposed to stand for words used by the persons represented in the picture.
  • noun In numismatics, the words or letters stamped on the obverse or the reverse of a coin or medal: sometimes differentiated from, inscription as the reading around the circumference of a coin or medal, and sometimes as all that is inscribed excepting the name of the sovereign or other person represented.
  • noun A roll; list; book.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To tell or narrate, as a legend.
  • noun That which is appointed to be read; especially, a chronicle or register of the lives of saints, formerly read at matins, and in the refectories of religious houses.
  • noun A story respecting saints; especially, one of a marvelous nature.
  • noun Any wonderful story coming down from the past, but not verifiable by historical record; a myth; a fable.
  • noun An inscription, motto, or title, esp. one surrounding the field in a medal or coin, or placed upon an heraldic shield or beneath an engraving or illustration.
  • noun See under Golden.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A story of unknown origin describing plausible but extraordinary past events.
  • noun A story in which a kernel of truth is embellished to an unlikely degree.
  • noun A leading protagonist in a historical legend.
  • noun A person of extraordinary accomplishment.
  • noun A key to the symbols and color codes on a map, chart, etc.
  • noun The text on a coin.
  • noun A fabricated backstory for a spy, with associated documents and records; a cover story.
  • noun UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, colloquial, slang A cool, nice or helpful person, especially one who is male.
  • verb archaic, transitive To tell or narrate; to recount.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun brief description accompanying an illustration
  • noun a story about mythical or supernatural beings or events


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English legende, from Old French legende, from Medieval Latin legenda ("a legend, story, especially the lives of the saints"), from Latin legenda, from lego ("I read").


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  • .

    June 13, 2008

  • A legend (Latin, legenda, "things to be read") is a narrative of human actions that are perceived both by teller and listeners to take place within human history and to possess certain qualities that give the tale verisimilitude. Legend, for its active and passive participants, includes no happenings that are outside the realm of "possibility", defined by a highly flexible set of parameters, which may include miracles that are perceived as actually having happened, within the specific tradition of indoctrination where the legend arises, and within which it may be transformed over time, in order to keep it fresh and vital, and realistic.

    A legend is a story, that is probably about someone that did exist but has been twisted to seem more interesting and fascinating. This story is passed down generation to generation. Most legends are pourquoi stories.

    Ernst Bernheim suggested that legend is simply the survival of rumour.

    June 13, 2008

  • Origin of the word:

    c.1340, from O.Fr. legende (12c.), from M.L. legenda "legend, story," lit. "(things) to be read," on certain days in church, etc., from neuter plural gerundive of L. legere "to read, gather, select" (see lecture). Used originally of saints' lives; extended sense of "nonhistorical or mythical story" first recorded 1613. Meaning "writing or inscription" (especially on a coin or medal) is from 1611; on a map, illustration, etc., from 1903.

    June 13, 2008

  • Morris agreed to create a legend—a ghost job with false credentials—in Paramount's Berlin office. The legendlegend served as a deep cover for Vassili Zarubin, later chief of Soviet espionage in the United States during World War II.
    Tim Weiner, Enemies: A History of the FBI (New York: Random House, 2012), p. 181

    July 19, 2017

  • cf. qms

    July 27, 2019