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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.