Definition of legend noun from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary

     

    legend

     noun
    noun
    BrE BrE//ˈledʒənd//
     
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈledʒənd//
     
    Types of story
     
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  1. 1[countable, uncountable] a story from ancient times about people and events, that may or may not be true; this type of story synonym myth the legend of Robin Hood the heroes of Greek legend Legend has it that the lake was formed by the tears of a god. compare urban myth CultureArthurian legendThe legends of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table are familiar to many British people. They are the subject of several poems and stories of the Middle Ages (11th-15th centuries), as well as of later novels, musical plays and films, and are a central part of British tradition and folklore. The most important Arthurian works include Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur, a set of long prose romances (= stories of love and adventure) written in the 15th century, Alfred Lord Tennyson's Idylls of the King, a series of twelve poems dating from the 19th century and T H White's novel The Once and Future King (1958) . The legends continue to be retold in new ways, for instance in the musical Camelot (1960) and the films The Sword in the Stone and King Arthur (2004) .The real King Arthur lived in the late 5th and early 6th century. He was a warrior chief who fought against the Anglo-Saxons and probably defeated them at the Battle of Badon. He is said to have died in the battle of Camlan. Stories about him were collected in the 12th century by the historian Geoffrey of Monmouth. They were added to and developed by French writers such as Chrétien de Troyes, who wrote during the period 1170-90, and also became the centre of a group of legends in Germany. As a result, other characters such as Lancelot, Tristram (Tristan) and Perceval (Parzival) became associated with Arthur and were included by Malory in Le Morte D'Arthur, the version of the legends which became most widely known in Britain.The stories of Arthur and his knights celebrate the age of chivalry, when knights aimed to live according to the highest Christian principles. Their character and courage are tested by meetings with giants, dragons and sorcerers, and by their own human weakness, such as pride or forbidden love. The love affairs of Tristram and Isoud (Iseult) and Lancelot and Guinevere are part of the tradition of courtly love which was a central theme in European poetry of the Middle Ages.According to legend, Arthur was born at Tintagel in Cornwall, the son of Uther Pendragon, King of all England. One version says that at a young age he was put under a spell by the magician Merlin so that he grew up not knowing he was heir to the English throne. He became King at the age of 15 after he pulled the magic sword Excalibur out of a stone when all the knights of the kingdom had failed to do so. Another version of the legend says that he received the sword from the Lady of the Lake, and this fits in with the story that, as he was dying, he ordered the sword to be thrown back into the lake and it was caught by a hand that rose from the water. Arthur gathered round him the most worthy knights in the land, including Sir Lancelot, Lancelot's son Sir Galahad, Sir Bedivere and Sir Gawain, and established his court at Camelot. On Arthur's orders the knights all sat at the Round Table, so nobody could sit at the head of the table and claim to be more important than the rest.Arthur won many victories in battle and married the beautiful Guinevere. Later, Arthur's half-sister, the sorceress Morgan le Fay, attempted to kill him, and Arthur's discovery of a love affair between his wife and Sir Lancelot further threatened his court. The knights went off in search of the Holy Grail. Lancelot saw but failed to obtain it because he was not sufficiently pure, and it was eventually found by Sir Galahad. Arthur went to fight against Rome with Sir Gawain but while he was abroad, his nephew Mordred seized the kingdom and made Guinevere his prisoner. Arthur returned to England to defeat and kill Mordred at the battle of Camlan, but was himself seriously wounded. Morgan le Fay then appeared in a boat to take Arthur to Avalon, the paradise of the Celts. According to some versions Arthur and his knights now lie asleep underground, waiting for the day they are needed to wake and save England from danger.Many people now visit Tintagel Castle high above the sea, the place where Arthur was born and later the home of Mark, the husband of Iseult, Tristram's lover. Several attempts have been made to identify where Arthur's Camelot was. Suggested sites include Caerleon in South Wales, Camelford and South Cadbury, both in Somerset, and Winchester. Glastonbury is said to be Avalon because in the 12th century some monks there claimed to have found the graves of Arthur and Guinevere. See related entries: Types of story
  2. 2[countable] a very famous person, especially in a particular field, who is admired by other people a jazz/tennis, etc. legend She was a legend in her own lifetime. Many of golf's living legends were playing. a legend in the world of music
  3. 3[countable] (specialist) the explanation of a map or a diagram in a book synonym key
  4. 4[countable] (formal) a piece of writing on a sign, a label, a coin, etc.
  5. Word Origin Middle English (in the sense ‘story of a saint's life’): from Old French legende, from medieval Latin legenda ‘things to be read’, from Latin legere ‘read’. Sense (1) dates from the early 17th cent.Extra examples He told us the legend of the ghostly horseman. Legend has it that the Bridge of Sighs got its name from the cries of prisoners being led across it. Legend says that the forest is cursed. The island has long been the subject of legend. The legend of his supernatural origins lives on. The story is part of the ancient legend of King Arthur. The story of how she was rescued has already passed into legend. There have always been stories of human giants in Celtic legend and mythology. legends about the Vikings movie stars who become living legends the myths and legends of Mexico Legend has it that the lake was formed by the tears of a god. Many of golf’s living legends were playing. She was a legend in her own lifetime. The film is based on the legend of Robin Hood.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: legend

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