What is Legend: Legend Definition & Meaning?

The meaning of legend from the literary standpoint forms the basis of this article. The word “legend” comes from the Latin word “legenda,” which means “a thing to be read.” In the Middle Ages, leyendas were stories about the lives of saints, which were often read aloud during religious services.

Over time, the meaning of the word broadened to include any traditional story from the past, regardless of its subject matter.

Simply put, Legend is a traditional story from the past that is believed by many people but cannot be proven to be true. Legends are often based on real people or events, but they are often exaggerated or embellished over time. They can be about anything from heroes and monsters to lost treasures and supernatural phenomena.

Examples of legends include King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, Robin Hood, The Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, and The Bermuda Triangle.

What is a Legend?

A legend (/lejnd/) is a story about human occurrences or deeds that have never been proven or documented in historical records. Legends are narrated as if they were true happenings, and they were thought to be historical chronicles.

They frequently tell stories about things that are plausible, so that both the storyteller and the listener believe them to be true. Its meaning is derived from the Medieval Latin term legenda, which means “things to be read,” as well as the Latin legendus.

What is a Legend?

The details in legends are changed and adapted over time to keep audiences interested—for example, the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone (a magical stone that can make a person immortal and turn metals into gold) can be found in literature from the Middle Ages to the modern Harry Potter series.

Because legends do not profess to be literal retellings of events, neither the audience nor the author accepts them completely.

An urban legend, on the other hand, is a fictional story in popular culture that is known to be incorrect, such as a myth passed down from year to year to each new class of freshmen about an elderly janitor who used to murder students at the local high school.

Though this article concentrates on the literary definition, it is crucial to highlight that the term “legend” is frequently used nowadays to underline something’s fame or importance. We frequently use the word “legendary” to describe things; for example, Babe Ruth is a baseball legend, and Elvis is a rock and roll legend.

It’s not always evident if a legend is fiction or nonfiction—the reality behind it can be hazy. For example, the Lochness Monster and Bigfoot stories are based on true sightings, but their existence has yet to be proven.

Importance of Legends

Legends are an exciting sort of storytelling because we want to think they are true, and mankind has and will always appreciate them as stories.

They are an important component of both oral and written folklore, and can be found in folktales from all cultures (see Related Terms).

It is in our nature to tell interesting and significant stories to friends and future generations in order for them to be recorded and remembered.

People enjoy telling stories, but they also enjoy exaggerating them, which is why legends are so timeless—their facts have been inflated and modified so many times that the truth has become a mystery that may still need to be solved, and this makes them extremely intriguing.

Legends will exist and grow as long as we continue to pass along great stories.

Example of a Legend

Read the short story below:

Ghost & Vampire Legends of Rhode Island | Rhode Island

Alongside the river in Old Usquepaugh, Rhode Island is an old grist mill that was built the 1700s. It is settled beside a misty waterfall, its wheel spinning in the water all day and night to churn out corn. Across from the mill, workers built small cottages into the sides of the hill with stones and stone and packed the walls with horse hair for warmth.

On one night in October, during the full moon, one of the workers noticed that the mill’s wheel stopped spinning, so he pulled on his coat and walked to the mill. He thought he saw a branch wedged in the top of the wheel, so climbed a ladder to the roof.

As he reached to grab the branch, he lost his footing, falling into the rocky falls below. His body was never found. They say that every October, on the night of the full moon, the wheel stops turning as it did that night long ago…and coming from the mist of the falls, you can hear the sound of a man moaning.

For various reasons, the ghost story above could be a legend. First and foremost, it is based on a genuine site and corn mill in Rhode Island, where mill worker cottages still survive today.

Second, the plot is plausible and plausible. Third, the specifics are murky…does the wheel truly come to a halt every October? It’s conceivable. Is that a man moaning? Unlikely…Could it, however, be true? As you can see, some of the story is true, while others may be fantasy.

Examples of Legend in Literature

Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur is the most famous and important collection of tales about King Arthur in literature. In reality, Le Morte d’Arthur is the source of all stories concerning King Arthur, Queen Guinevere, Lancelot, the magician Merlin, the Knights of the Round Table, and the city of Camelot.

The following text is from Le Morte d’Arthur’s Third Book, in the chapter titled “How the knights of the Round Table were ordained, and their sieges blessed by the bishop of Canterbury”:

When king Arthur heard of the coming of Guenever and the hundred knights with the Table Round, then king Arthur made great joy for their coming, and that rich present, and said openly, This fair lady is passing welcome unto me, for I have loved her long, and therefore there is nothing so lief to me.

And these knights with the Round Table please me more than right great riches. And in all haste the king let ordain for the marriage and the coronation in the most honourablest wise that could be devised.

The preceding passage describes the alleged visit of Guinevere to Camelot and Arthur’s wedding plans. Malory also recalls the arrival of the “Table Round” and the knights that carried it.

However, whether or not any of this occurred is questionable. While it is widely assumed that King Arthur was a real historical figure, the specifics of his life and reign are ambiguous, untrustworthy, and unclear—as a result, all stories about King Arthur are legends.

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