Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Saga


The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is saga. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

saga is a long and complicated story or series of events. Saga first referred to ancient Icelandic narratives that tell of legendary figures and events of the heroic age of Norway and Iceland.

// What was supposed to be an easy return from the airport turned into quite a saga.

SAGA in Context

“Hill said that the key to the show’s look and tone is always influenced by ‘The Godfather.’ The show is simply a version of the Corleone family saga that continually undermines its heroes’ attempts at maintaining power, keeping their enemies close, and their dinner rolls closer.” — Sarah Shachat, IndieWire, 20 June 2022

Did You Know?

The original sagas were Icelandic prose narratives that were roughly analogous to modern historical novels. They were penned in the 12th and 13th centuries, and blended fact and fiction to tell the tales of famous rulers, legendary heroes, and average folks of Iceland and Norway. And they were aptly named: saga traces back to an Old Norse root that means “tale.” The English word first referred only to those original Icelandic stories, but saga later broadened to cover other narratives reminiscent of those, and the word was eventually further generalized to cover any long, complicated scenario.

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