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’
    • ‘They presently have a wide variety of books, including a section on mythology and the legend of King Arthur.’
    • ‘Oral histories and legends abound, but how reliable are they?’
    • ‘All the ethnic groups of Uganda have a rich oral tradition of tales, legends, stories, proverbs, and riddles.’
    • ‘This was pretty much the starting point of the Arthurian legends with regard to the Holy Grail.’
    • ‘Children were once told fairytales, myths, legends and fables because they had a meaning, a moral or a special psychological relevance.’
    • ‘It is difficult to distinguish authentic historical information from legends within the accounts given.’
    • ‘The chapter ends by providing numerous excerpts from historical legends and folklore that mention the robin.’
    • ‘The legend of Tristan and Isolde, one of the most popular, was tacked on to Arthur's.’
    • ‘His early interest in European legends resulted in a Master's Degree on the Grail legend.’
    • ‘However, there is a strong oral tradition consisting of stories, legends, fables, poems, riddles, and songs.’
    • ‘These decades of collecting and collating myths, legends and historical snippets are clearly reflected in breadth and depth of the book.’
    • ‘It is an interesting survey, and shows how creative people still continue to mine myths, legends and traditional culture for material.’
    • ‘Whatever historical events underlie the legend of the Trojan War did not occur as depicted here.’
    • ‘Welsh culture was based on an oral tradition of legends, myths, and folktales passed down from generation to generation.’
    • ‘These ancient people bring us the legend of King Arthur and the Holy Grail.’
    • ‘The legend of Romulus and Remus gives the impression that Rome was created very quickly; the truth was very different.’
    • ‘It consists of a systematic survey of the lake monster theme in the legends and popular folklore of Québec.’
    • ‘Born in Huddersfield, the 45-year-old is the son of a draughtsman and a mother with a passion for historical myths and legends.’
    • ‘Every culture has its own body of folklore, myths, legends, song, poetry, stories, and parables.’
    • ‘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.’
    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’
      • ‘The legend of the notable Saint Anton is connected to plague victims and all diseases.’
      • ‘That is the true meaning of the legend of Saint George.’
      • ‘A book that explores the Catholic faith and Mexican culture is The Lady of Guadalupe, the legend of the patron saint of Mexico.’
      • ‘These local religious festivals usually center on a particular saint or legend.’
      • ‘One of legends concerning Saint George is the famous dragon story, with which he is invariably portrayed.’
  • 2An extremely famous or notorious person, especially in a particular field.

    ‘the man was a living legend’
    ‘a screen legend’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘And yet it would be one of those ‘tiny observable effects’ that turned Einstein into a living legend.’
    • ‘Oliver ‘Smokey’ Charles, 79, is a living legend when it comes to football in St Lucia.’
    • ‘Growing up as the legacy of a living legend isn't easy.’
    • ‘John was a legend in his own lifetime, and was exceptionally popular in the locality where he had lived.’
    • ‘How does he feel sharing the stage with a living legend?’
    • ‘Even jazz legend Louis Armstrong makes a cameo appearance as the Harmonia Gardens' bandleader, singing the film's title track.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The artist, who has become a legend in his own lifetime, is also currently working on a permanent Jewish holocaust memorial in Manhattan.’
    • ‘Indeed he is a living legend in the tennis world.’
    • ‘When Sidney Kidman left his Norwood home, he was thirteen years old and eventually would become ‘a legend in his own lifetime’.’
    • ‘The coach who helped guide Amir Khan to an Olympic silver medal says the Bolton teenager can become a boxing legend.’
    • ‘We'll ask a living legend of broadcast journalism, Walter Cronkite, the former CBS News anchor.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Florence Nightingale's pioneering development of military and civilian nursing and of hospital care, made her a legend in her own lifetime.’
    • ‘Paying tribute to his colleague on Monday, Killarney Jarvey Association spokesman, Pat O'Sullivan, said Mick was a legend in his own lifetime.’
    • ‘He is a living legend, as his achievements testify.’
    • ‘But he was also bigger than life, a living legend who at age 33 could swim faster than he had at 21.’
    • ‘Mikey Sheehy, one of Kerry's footballing legends, has eight All-Ireland medals after his exploits in the Green and Gold.’
    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. 3.1 A caption.
      ‘a picture of a tiger with the legend ‘Go ahead make my day’’
      • ‘Captions or legends must be submitted with all photographs, drawings, and tables.’
      • ‘By improving legends and headings, authors will entice readers to learn more of their story; ultimately, more, not less, text will be read.’
      caption, inscription, label, heading, subheading, head, motto, slogan, device, wording, rubric
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    2. 3.2 The wording on a map or diagram explaining the symbols used.
      ‘see legend to Fig. 1’
      • ‘All abbreviations are explained in the legend to Fig 1.’
      • ‘The abbreviations are explained in the inset legend to Figure 3.’
      • ‘The length of such multimers is specified in the legend to Fig.2.’
      • ‘Include glossaries or legends as helpful tools.’
      • ‘Species are referred to by symbols in the legend.’
      • ‘The figure contains two subfigures, each composed of three graphs, which are explained in the legend for figure 14.’
      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 (sense 1 of the noun) dates from the early 17th century.