Webster 1913 Edition



, Gr.
history, information, inquiry, fr.
, knowing, learned, from the root of [GREEK] to know; akin to E.
. See
, and cf.
A learning or knowing by inquiry; the knowledge of facts and events, so obtained; hence, a formal statement of such information; a narrative; a description; a written record;
as, the
of a patient’s case; the
of a legislative bill.
A systematic, written account of events, particularly of those affecting a nation, institution, science, or art, and usually connected with a philosophical explanation of their causes; a true story, as distinguished from a romance; – distinguished also from annals, which relate simply the facts and events of each year, in strict chronological order; from biography, which is the record of an individual's life; and from memoir, which is history composed from personal experience, observation, and memory.
are as perfect as the historian is wise, and is gifted with an eye and a soul.
For aught that I could ever read,
Could ever hear by tale or
of toil could I declare!
Syn. – Chronicle; annals; relation; narration.
. History is a methodical record of important events which concern a community of men, usually so arranged as to show the connection of causes and effects, to give an analysis of motive and action etc. A chronicle is a record of such events, conforming to the order of time as its distinctive feature. Annals are a chronicle divided up into separate years. By poetic license annals is sometimes used for history.
Justly Cæsar scorns the poet's lays;
It is to
he trusts for praise.
No more yet of this;
For 't is a
of day by day,
Not a relation for a breakfast.
Many glorious examples in the
of our religion.


To narrate or record.

Webster 1828 Edition



[L. historia; Gr. knowing, learned, and to inquire, to explore, to learn by inspection or inquiry.]
An account of facts, particularly of facts respecting nations or states; a narration of events in the order in which they happened,with their causes and effects. History differs from annals. Annals relate simply the facts and events of each year, in strict chronological order, without any observations of the annalist. History regards less strictly the arrangement of events under each year, and admits the observations of the writer. This distinction however is not always regarded with strictness.
History is of different kinds, or treats of different subjects; as a history of government or political history; history of the christian church, or ecclesiastical history; history of war and conquests, or military history; history of law; history of commerce; history of the crusades, &c. In these and similar examples, history is written narrative or relation. What is the history of nations, but a narrative of the follies, crimes and miseries of man?
Narration; verbal relation of facts or events; story. We listen with pleasure to the soldier or the seaman, giving a history of his adventures.
What histories of toil could I declare?
Knowledge of facts and events.
History--is necessary to divines.
Description; an account of things that exist; as natural history, which comprehends a description of the works of nature, particularly of animals, plants and minerals; a history of animals, or zoology; a history of plants.
An account of the origin, life and actions of an individual person. We say, we have a concise history of the prisoner in the testimony offered to the court.
A formal written account of an individual's life, is called biography.

Definition 2024




Alternative forms


Wikiversity history (countable and uncountable, plural histories)

  1. The aggregate of past events.
    • 1918, W. B. Maxwell, chapter 7, in The Mirror and the Lamp:
      With some of it on the south and more of it on the north of the great main thoroughfare that connects Aldgate and the East India Docks, St. Bede's at this period of its history was perhaps the poorest and most miserable parish in the East End of London.
    • 2012 March-April, Jan Sapp, Race Finished”, in American Scientist, volume 100, number 2, page 164:
      Few concepts are as emotionally charged as that of race. The word conjures up a mixture of associations—culture, ethnicity, genetics, subjugation, exclusion and persecution. But is the tragic history of efforts to define groups of people by race really a matter of the misuse of science, the abuse of a valid biological concept?
    History repeats itself if we don’t learn from its mistakes.
  2. The branch of knowledge that studies the past; the assessment of notable events.
    • 2013 September 6, Peter Beaumont, Lessons of past cast shadows over Syria”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 189, number 13, page 18:
      History and experience act as a filter that can distort as much as elucidate. It is largely forgotten now, overlooked in the one-line description of Tony Blair and George W Bush as the men who lied about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, but there was a wider context to their conviction.
    He teaches history at the university.   History will not look kindly on these tyrants.   He dreams of an invention that will make history.
  3. (countable) A set of events involving an entity.
    What is your medical history?   The family's history includes events best forgotten.
    • 2014 October 21, Oliver Brown, “Oscar Pistorius jailed for five years – sport afforded no protection against his tragic fallibilities: Bladerunner's punishment for killing Reeva Steenkamp is but a frippery when set against the burden that her bereft parents, June and Barry, must carry [print version: No room for sentimentality in this tragedy, 13 September 2014, p. S22]”, in The Daily Telegraph (Sport):
      [I]n the 575 days since [Oscar] Pistorius shot dead his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, there has been an unseemly scramble to construct revisionist histories, to identify evidence beneath that placid exterior of a pugnacious, hair-trigger personality.
  4. (countable) A record or narrative description of past events.
    I really enjoyed Shakespeare's tragedies more than his histories.
  5. (countable, medicine) A list of past and continuing medical conditions of an individual or family.
    A personal medical history is required for the insurance policy.   He has a history of cancer in his family.
  6. (countable, computing) A record of previous user events, especially of visited web pages in a browser.
    I visited a great site yesterday but forgot the URL. Luckily, I didn't clear my history.
  7. (informal) Something that no longer exists or is no longer relevant.
    I told him that if he doesn't get his act together, he's history.
  8. (uncountable) Shared experience or interaction.
    There is too much history between them for them to split up now.
    He has had a lot of history with the police.


Derived terms



history (third-person singular simple present histories, present participle historying, simple past and past participle historied)

  1. (obsolete) To narrate or record.
    (Can we find and add a quotation of Shakespeare to this entry?)


Most common English words before 1923: u · gold · letters · #588: history · master · latter · fellow


  1. OED