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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English storie, storye, from Anglo-Norman estorie, from Late Latin storia, an aphetic form of Latin historia (history; story), from Ancient Greek ἱστορία (historía, history). Compare history and storey (floor of a building).

Alternative forms[edit]


story (plural stories)

  1. A sequence of real or fictional events; or, an account of such a sequence.
    • Ed. Rev.
      Venice, with its unique city and its impressive story
    • Sir W. Temple
      The four great monarchies make the subject of ancient story.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 1, in The Celebrity:
      The stories did not seem to me to touch life. They were plainly intended to have a bracing moral effect, and perhaps had this result for the people at whom they were aimed. They left me with the impression of a well-delivered stereopticon lecture, with characters about as life-like as the shadows on the screen, and whisking on and off, at the mercy of the operator.
    • 2013 June 29, “Travels and travails”, in The Economist, volume 407, number 8842, page 55:
      Even without hovering drones, a lurking assassin, a thumping score and a denouement, the real-life story of Edward Snowden, a rogue spy on the run, could be straight out of the cinema. But, as with Hollywood, the subplots and exotic locations may distract from the real message: America’s discomfort and its foes’ glee.
    The book tells the story of two roommates.
  2. A lie, fiction.
    You’ve been telling stories again, haven’t you?
  3. (US, colloquial, usually pluralized) A soap opera.
    What will she do without being able to watch her stories?
  4. (obsolete) History.
    • 1644, John Milton, Aeropagitica:
      [] who is so unread or so uncatechis'd in story, that hath not heard of many sects refusing books as a hindrance, and preserving their doctrine unmixt for many ages, only by unwritt'n traditions.
  5. A sequence of events, or a situation, such as might be related in an account.
    What's the story with him?
    I tried it again; same story, no error message, nothing happened.
Usage notes[edit]
  • (soap opera): Popularized in the 1950s, when soap operas were often billed as "continuing stories", the term "story" to describe a soap opera fell into disuse by the 21st century and is now used chiefly among older people and in rural areas. Other English-speaking countries used the term at its zenith as a "loaned" word from the United States.
Derived terms[edit]


story (third-person singular simple present stories, present participle storying, simple past and past participle storied)

  1. To tell as a story; to relate or narrate about.
    • Shakespeare
      How worthy he is I will leave to appear hereafter, rather than story him in his own hearing.
    • Bishop Wilkins
      It is storied of the brazen colossus in Rhodes, that it was seventy cubits high.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English story, from Old French *estoree (a thing built, a building), from estoree (built), feminine past participle of estorer (to build), from Latin instaurare (to construct, build, erect).

Alternative forms[edit]


story (plural stories)

  1. (obsolete) A building or edifice.
  2. (chiefly US) A floor or level of a building; a storey.
    Our shop was on the fourth story of the building, so we had to install an elevator.
  3. (typography) Alternative form of storey


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: information · seem · book · #469: story · deep · meet · interest