a. An unverified story handed down from earlier times, especially one popularly believed to be historical.
b. A body or collection of such stories.
c. A romanticized or popularized myth of modern times.
2. One that inspires legends or achieves legendary fame.
a. An inscription or a title on an object, such as a coin.
b. An explanatory caption accompanying an illustration.
c. An explanatory table or list of the symbols appearing on a map or chart.
[Middle English, from Old French legende, from Medieval Latin (lcti) legenda, (lesson) to be read, from Latin, feminine gerundive of legere, to read; see leg- in Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: Legend comes from the Latin adjective legenda, for reading, to be read, which referred only to written stories, not to traditional stories transmitted orally from generation to generation. This restriction also applied to the English word legend when it was first used in the late 14th century in reference to written accounts of saints lives, but ever since the 15th century legend has been used to refer to traditional stories as well. Today a legend can also be a person or achievement worthy of inspiring such a storyanyone or anything whose fame promises to be enduring, even if the renown is created more by the media than by oral tradition. Thus we speak of the legendary accomplishments of a major-league baseball star or the legendary voice of a famous opera singer. This usage is common journalistic hyperbole, and 55 percent of the Usage Panel accepts it.
legend /ldnd/ n.1 a story from the distant past, (syn.) myth: Each country has its legends about the past.2 an explanation of the symbols on a map: The legend on this map shows that a star is the symbol for a capital city.