Definition of history in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈhɪst(ə)ri/

noun (plural histories)

1 [mass noun] The study of past events, particularly in human affairs: medieval European history
More example sentences
  • An honest answer is that we do not know; that is why we do history and study current events.
  • The director needs to study social life and history more profoundly and change his course.
  • At this point she started to study constitutional history and law.
the past, former times, historical events, days of old, the old days, the good old days, time gone by, bygone days, yesterday, antiquity
literary days of yore, the olden days, yesteryear
archaic the eld
1.1The past considered as a whole: letters that have changed the course of history
More example sentences
  • Wouldn't it be great if history as a whole could selectively forget its blemishes?
  • Harper tried to rewrite or ignore history this whole campaign, and I must admit he did a pretty fine job.
  • There are moments in history when the whole fate and future of nations can be decided by a single decision.
2The whole series of past events connected with a particular person or thing: the history of the Empire a patient with a complicated medical history
More example sentences
  • The series explores the history of evil, what society means by the word evil, where it comes from and what society can do to deal with it.
  • Mash, which became one of the most famous series in the history of television, was originally a novel.
  • The series about the history of speed and the intense rivalry to be the fastest revisits the golden age of the train.
2.1An eventful past: the group has quite a history
More example sentences
  • You may not be aware that Ueno has quite a history dating back to the early years of the Edo Period when it was just a little swampland.
  • Cllr Mary Kelly said the Town Council offices at Market Square had quite an amazing history.
  • There's quite a history of it, and in fact it's been a public issue before.
2.2A past characterized by a particular thing: his family had a history of insanity
More example sentences
  • Perhaps he was just losing his marbles; there was a history of insanity in his family.
  • They say the health implications can be particularly serious if there is a family history of high blood pressure.
  • Mesereau said he was the victim of a trap set by a family with a history of milking celebrities.
3A continuous, typically chronological, record of important or public events or of a particular trend or institution: a history of the labour movement
More example sentences
  • Local lighthouse enthusiasts could give public accounts of the history and future of their local light.
  • It's important to recount the history of that story and the lessons Howard learned.
  • It is the highest recorded circulation in the history of the newspaper.
chronicle, archive, record, report, narrative, story, account, study, tale, saga;
memoir, biography, autobiography;
public records, annals
3.1A historical play: Shakespeare’s comedies, histories, and tragedies
More example sentences
  • Most people think that William Shakespeare, who died in 1616, wrote three kinds of plays: comedies, tragedies and histories.
  • In high school, teachers spend a great deal of time guiding students through the rigors of Shakespeare's tragedies and histories, but what about the comedies?
  • And you can see the influence of Shakespeare's histories in the emphasis on grieving fathers and sons, and the cyclical nature of violence.



be history

Be perceived as no longer relevant to the present: the mainframe is already history
More example sentences
  • The lost year is history and not relevant for future calculations of whether hard bargaining will pay off.
  • Ah well, if it's the photo at the top of yesterday's post you're thinking of, that beard was history as soon as the filming was done.
  • Plain vanilla, chocolate and raspberry ripple will soon be history.
informal1.1 Used to indicate imminent departure, dismissal, or death: an inch either way and you’d be history
More example sentences
  • Unless Jacob tops Kevin in the kissing department, he should be history by tomorrow.
  • Once we were history he retreated into his fantasy world in one of the most bizarre ways I've ever seen.
  • By the third issue, the original editor, publisher and a number of other key personnel were history.

go down in history

Be remembered or recorded in history: the 1981 Grand National has gone down in history as one of the most emotional races ever run
More example sentences
  • She had set tons of records and went down in history.
  • It will go down in history and our children's children will remember these departed colleagues of ours.
  • Many players go down in history because they're successful but few are remembered for their magic.

make history

Do something that is remembered in or influences the course of history: the track where he made history thirty-five years ago
More example sentences
  • They came here, claiming to try to make history, but evidently making history implies not losing the series rather than winning.
  • I found without doubt some of the most powerful women in history making history at the times when Venus crossed the Sun.
  • Every day remember that, then organise, not just to make history but to change its course.

the rest is history

Used to indicate that the events succeeding those already related are so well known that they need not be recounted again: they teamed up, discovered that they could make music, and the rest is history
More example sentences
  • The sparks flew immediately, and the rest, well, as they say, the rest is history.
  • Undaunted by the male-dominated music society of her times, she took the music world by storm - and the rest is history.
  • The Lottery gave over £500,000 and the rest is history.


Late Middle English (also as a verb): via Latin from Greek historia 'finding out, narrative, history', from histōr 'learned, wise man', from an Indo-European root shared by wit2.

  • History goes back to a very ancient root that is also the source of Latin videre ‘to see’ ( see view) and of the Old English word wit ‘to have knowledge’. More immediately it came from Greek historia ‘finding out, narrative, history’. In its earliest use in English a history was not necessarily assumed to be true: it could be any narrative or story, an idea echoed by the American motor manufacturer Henry Ford (1863–1947) when he said ‘History is more or less bunk.’ To make history, ‘to do something that influences the course of history’, dates from the mid 19th century. A less positive view of history appears in the phrase to be history, ‘to be dead or no longer relevant to the present’, which is recorded from the 1930s.

Words that rhyme with history

consistory, mystery

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: his|tory

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