Origin of legend

1300–50; 1900–05 for def 4; Middle English legende written account of a saint's life < Medieval Latin legenda literally, (lesson) to be read, noun use of feminine of Latin legendus, gerund of legere to read; so called because appointed to be read on respective saints' days
Related formspre·leg·end, noun, adjective
Can be confusedfable legend myth (see synonym study at the current entry)

Synonyms for legend

1. Legend, fable, myth refer to fictitious stories, usually handed down by tradition (although some fables are modern). Legend, originally denoting a story concerning the life of a saint, is applied to any fictitious story, sometimes involving the supernatural, and usually concerned with a real person, place, or other subject: the legend of the Holy Grail. A fable is specifically a fictitious story (often with animals or inanimate things as speakers or actors) designed to teach a moral: a fable about industrious bees. A myth is one of a class of stories, usually concerning gods, semidivine heroes, etc., current since primitive times, the purpose of which is to attempt to explain some belief or natural phenomenon: the Greek myth about Demeter.

Antonyms for legend

1. fact.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for legend

Contemporary Examples of legend

Historical Examples of legend

  • The other, and even more popular, legend is that of "The Harmonious Blacksmith."


    Edward J. Dent

  • True child of Alsace, he revelled in local folklore and legend.

    In the Heart of Vosges

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • The "accursed" gold of legend is often dragon-guarded and placed under a spell.



  • Enter the first division, and a legend at your feet indicated the ten-cent territory.

    Meadow Grass

    Alice Brown

  • Then, too, there was quite a legend attached to this pretty girl.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

British Dictionary definitions for legend



a popular story handed down from earlier times whose truth has not been ascertained
a group of such storiesthe Arthurian legend
a modern story that has taken on the characteristics of a traditional legendary tale
a person whose fame or notoriety makes him a source of exaggerated or romanticized tales or exploits
an inscription or title, as on a coin or beneath a coat of arms
explanatory matter accompanying a table, map, chart, etc
  1. a story of the life of a saint
  2. a collection of such stories
Derived Formslegendry, noun

Word Origin for legend

C14 (in the sense: a saint's life or a collection of saints' lives): from Medieval Latin legenda passages to be read, from Latin legere to read
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for legend

early 14c., "narrative dealing with a happening or an event," from Old French legende (12c., Modern French légende) and directly from Medieval Latin legenda "legend, story," literally "(things) to be read," on certain days in church, etc., from Latin legendus, neuter plural gerundive of legere "to read, gather, select" (see lecture (n.)).

Used originally of saints' lives; extended sense of "nonhistorical or mythical story" first recorded late 14c. Meaning "writing or inscription" (especially on a coin or medal) is from 1610s; on a map, illustration, etc., from 1903.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper