Definition of legend in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈlɛdʒ(ə)nd/


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
More example sentences
  • The legend of Tristan and Isolde, one of the most popular, was tacked on to Arthur's.
  • This was pretty much the starting point of the Arthurian legends with regard to the Holy Grail.
  • Whatever historical events underlie the legend of the Trojan War did not occur as depicted here.
myth, saga, epic, folk tale, folk story, traditional story, tale, story, fairy tale, narrative, fable, romance;
folklore, lore, mythology, fantasy, oral history, tradition, folk tradition, old wives' tales
technical mythos, mythus
informal yarn
1.1 historical The story of a saint’s life: the mosaics illustrate the Legends of the Saints
More example sentences
  • The legend of the notable Saint Anton is connected to plague victims and all diseases.
  • 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
More example sentences
  • We'll ask a living legend of broadcast journalism, Walter Cronkite, the former CBS News anchor.
  • How does he feel sharing the stage with a living legend?
  • Oliver ‘Smokey’ Charles, 79, is a living legend when it comes to football in St Lucia.
celebrity, star, superstar, icon, famous person, great, genius, phenomenon, luminary, giant, big name
informal celeb, megastar
3An inscription, especially on a coin or medal.
Example sentences
  • The obverse of all denominations bore a harp, along with the legend Saorstat Eireann and the date the coin was struck.
  • Around the lower border is the same legend as on the gold coin.
  • The 200 baht coins have the same legend as the 100 baht coin.
caption, inscription, dedication, motto, slogan, device, heading, head, title, wording, subtitle, subheading, rubric, colophon
3.1A caption: a picture of a tiger with the legend ‘Go ahead make my day’
More example sentences
  • 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.
3.2The wording on a map or diagram explaining the symbols used: see legend to Fig. 1
More example sentences
  • The abbreviations are explained in the inset legend to Figure 3.
  • Species are referred to by symbols in the legend.
  • All abbreviations are explained in the legend to Fig 1.
explanation, key, code, cipher, table of symbols, guide, glossary


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'. sense 1 of the noun dates from the early 17th century.

  • A legend was first ‘the story of a saint's life’, coming from Old French legende, from medieval Latin legere ‘to read’, also found in legible (Late Middle English). The sense ‘a traditional story popularly regarded as historical’ dates from the early 17th century when the word is also first found meaning ‘motto, inscription’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: le¦gend

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