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From Middle English legende, from Old French legende, from Medieval Latin legenda ‎(a legend, story, especially the lives of the saints), from Latin legenda ‎(things which ought to be read), from lego ‎(I read).



legend ‎(plural legends)

  1. A story of unknown origin describing plausible but extraordinary past events.
    The legend of Troy was discovered to have a historical basis.
  2. A plausible story, or a plausible character, set in the historical past, but whose historicity is uncertain.
    The legend of Robin Hood/the legend of Prester John/the legend of Coriolanus.
  3. A story in which a kernel of truth is embellished to an unlikely degree.
    The 1984 Rose Bowl prank has spawned many legends. Here's the real story.
  4. A leading protagonist in a historical legend.
    Achilles is a legend in Greek culture.
  5. A person of extraordinary accomplishment.
    Michael Jordan stands as a legend in basketball.
  6. A key to the symbols and color codes on a map, chart, etc.
    According to the legend on the map, that building is a school.
  7. An inscription, motto, or title, especially one surrounding the field in a medal or coin, or placed upon a heraldic shield or beneath an engraving or illustration.
  8. A fabricated backstory for a spy, with associated documents and records; a cover story.
    According to his legend, he once worked for the Red Cross, spreading humanitarian aid in Africa.
    • 1992, Ronald Kessler, Inside the CIA, 1994 Pocket Books edition, ISBN 067173458X, page 115:
      If the documents are needed to establish "a light legend," meaning a superficial cover story, no steps are taken to make sure that if someone calls the college or motor vehicle department, the name on the document will be registered.
    • 2003, Rodney Carlisle, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Spies and Espionage, Alpha Books, ISBN 0028644182, page 105:
      Sorge solidified his own position by returning to Germany and developing a new legend. He joined the Nazi Party [] .
    • 2005, Curtis Peebles, Twilight Warriors, Naval Institute Press, ISBN 1591146607, page 25:
      Both the agent's legend and documents were intended to stand up against casual questions from Soviet citizens, such as during a job interview, or a routine police document check, such as were made at railway stations.
  9. (Britain, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, colloquial, slang) A cool, nice or helpful person, especially one who is male.
    I've lost my pen! —Here mate, borrow mine. —You legend.


  • (story of unknown origin): myth
  • (story embellished to become implausible): myth, tall tale
  • (leading protagonist): hero
  • (person of extraordinary accomplishment): hero
  • (key to symbols on a map or chart): guide, key
  • (text on a coin): inscription
  • (fabricated backstory for a spy): cover, cover story
  • (worthy friend): brick

Derived terms[edit]

Related terms[edit]



legend ‎(third-person singular simple present legends, present participle legending, simple past and past participle legended)

  1. (archaic, transitive) To tell or narrate; to recount.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Bishop Hall to this entry?)

External links[edit]





  1. present participle of legen


Inflection of legend
uninflected legend
inflected legende
predicative/adverbial legend
indefinite m./f. sing. legende
n. sing. legend
plural legende
definite legende
partitive legends





  1. Present participle of legen.