Definition of legend in English:



  • 1A traditional story sometimes popularly regarded as historical but not authenticated.

    ‘the legend of King Arthur’
    [mass noun] ‘according to legend he banished all the snakes from Ireland’
    • ‘The chapter ends by providing numerous excerpts from historical legends and folklore that mention the robin.’
    • ‘Oral histories and legends abound, but how reliable are they?’
    • ‘Children were once told fairytales, myths, legends and fables because they had a meaning, a moral or a special psychological relevance.’
    • ‘It consists of a systematic survey of the lake monster theme in the legends and popular folklore of Québec.’
    • ‘Welsh culture was based on an oral tradition of legends, myths, and folktales passed down from generation to generation.’
    • ‘His early interest in European legends resulted in a Master's Degree on the Grail legend.’
    • ‘The legend of Romulus and Remus gives the impression that Rome was created very quickly; the truth was very different.’
    • ‘These decades of collecting and collating myths, legends and historical snippets are clearly reflected in breadth and depth of the book.’
    • ‘These ancient people bring us the legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail.’
    • ‘All the ethnic groups of Uganda have a rich oral tradition of tales, legends, stories, proverbs, and riddles.’
    • ‘To most people, the old myths and legends are quaint reminders of a bygone and superstitious age, and have nothing much to tell us anymore.’
    • ‘This was pretty much the starting point of the Arthurian legends with regard to the Holy Grail.’
    • ‘They presently have a wide variety of books, including a section on mythology and the legend of King Arthur.’
    • ‘Born in Huddersfield, the 45-year-old is the son of a draughtsman and a mother with a passion for historical myths and legends.’
    • ‘It is an interesting survey, and shows how creative people still continue to mine myths, legends and traditional culture for material.’
    • ‘It is difficult to distinguish authentic historical information from legends within the accounts given.’
    • ‘However, there is a strong oral tradition consisting of stories, legends, fables, poems, riddles, and songs.’
    • ‘The legend of Tristan and Isolde, one of the most popular, was tacked on to Arthur's.’
    • ‘Whatever historical events underlie the legend of the Trojan War did not occur as depicted here.’
    • ‘Every culture has its own body of folklore, myths, legends, song, poetry, stories, and parables.’
    myth, saga, epic, folk tale, folk story, traditional story, tale, story, fairy tale, narrative, fable, romance
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    1. 1.1historical The story of a saint's life.
      ‘the mosaics illustrate the Legends of the Saints’
      • ‘One of legends concerning Saint George is the famous dragon story, with which he is invariably portrayed.’
      • ‘That is the true meaning of the legend of Saint George.’
      • ‘These local religious festivals usually center on a particular saint or legend.’
      • ‘A book that explores the Catholic faith and Mexican culture is The Lady of Guadalupe, the legend of the patron saint of Mexico.’
      • ‘The legend of the notable Saint Anton is connected to plague victims and all diseases.’
  • 2An extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.

    ‘the man was a living legend’
    ‘a screen legend’
    • ‘Mikey Sheehy, one of Kerry's footballing legends, has eight All-Ireland medals after his exploits in the Green and Gold.’
    • ‘The coach who helped guide Amir Khan to an Olympic silver medal says the Bolton teenager can become a boxing legend.’
    • ‘Indeed he is a living legend in the tennis world.’
    • ‘And yet it would be one of those ‘tiny observable effects’ that turned Einstein into a living legend.’
    • ‘Florence Nightingale's pioneering development of military and civilian nursing and of hospital care, made her a legend in her own lifetime.’
    • ‘We'll ask a living legend of broadcast journalism, Walter Cronkite, the former CBS News anchor.’
    • ‘Even jazz legend Louis Armstrong makes a cameo appearance as the Harmonia Gardens' bandleader, singing the film's title track.’
    • ‘When Sidney Kidman left his Norwood home, he was thirteen years old and eventually would become ‘a legend in his own lifetime’.’
    • ‘John was a legend in his own lifetime, and was exceptionally popular in the locality where he had lived.’
    • ‘Oliver ‘Smokey’ Charles, 79, is a living legend when it comes to football in St Lucia.’
    • ‘But being handed a gold medal by the swimming legend this summer has been the highlight so far of the 12-year-old's fledgling career in the pool.’
    • ‘Edward Ryan Aikau was a Hawaiian surfer, lifeguard and legend that dedicated his life to the ocean and ocean safety.’
    • ‘Charcot became a legend in his own lifetime and was elected to several major medical and neurologic societies in Europe and accorded many honors.’
    • ‘Paying tribute to his colleague on Monday, Killarney Jarvey Association spokesman, Pat O'Sullivan, said Mick was a legend in his own lifetime.’
    • ‘The artist, who has become a legend in his own lifetime, is also currently working on a permanent Jewish holocaust memorial in Manhattan.’
    • ‘But he was also bigger than life, a living legend who at age 33 could swim faster than he had at 21.’
    • ‘How does he feel sharing the stage with a living legend?’
    • ‘Rob Roy succeeded in becoming a legend in his own lifetime of 63 years and was compared with Robin Hood while he was still alive.’
    • ‘He is a living legend, as his achievements testify.’
    • ‘Growing up as the legacy of a living legend isn't easy.’
    celebrity, star, superstar, icon, famous person, great, genius, phenomenon, luminary, giant, big name
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  • 3An inscription, especially on a coin or medal.

    • ‘The obverse of all denominations bore a harp, along with the legend Saorstat Eireann and the date the coin was struck.’
    • ‘The 200 baht coins have the same legend as the 100 baht coin.’
    • ‘Around the lower border is the same legend as on the gold coin.’
    caption, inscription, dedication, motto, slogan, device, heading, head, title, wording, subtitle, subheading, rubric, colophon
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    1. 3.1A caption.
      ‘a picture of a tiger with the legend ‘Go ahead make my day’’
      • ‘By improving legends and headings, authors will entice readers to learn more of their story; ultimately, more, not less, text will be read.’
      • ‘Captions or legends must be submitted with all photographs, drawings, and tables.’
      caption, inscription, label, heading, subheading, head, motto, slogan, device, wording, rubric
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    2. 3.2The wording on a map or diagram explaining the symbols used.
      ‘see legend to Fig. 1’
      • ‘The figure contains two subfigures, each composed of three graphs, which are explained in the legend for figure 14.’
      • ‘Include glossaries or legends as helpful tools.’
      • ‘The length of such multimers is specified in the legend to Fig.2.’
      • ‘All abbreviations are explained in the legend to Fig 1.’
      • ‘The abbreviations are explained in the inset legend to Figure 3.’
      • ‘Species are referred to by symbols in the legend.’
      explanation, key, code, cipher, table of symbols, guide, glossary
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  • [predicative] Very well known.

    ‘his speed and ferocity in attack were legend’


Middle English (in the sense ‘story of a saint's life’): from Old French legende, from medieval Latin legenda things to be read, from Latin legere read. legend dates from the early 17th century.