sa·​ga | \ ˈsä-gə How to pronounce saga (audio) also ˈsa- \

Definition of saga

1 : a prose narrative recorded in Iceland in the 12th and 13th centuries of historic or legendary figures and events of the heroic age of Norway and Iceland
2 : a modern heroic narrative resembling the Icelandic saga
3 : a long detailed account a saga of the Old South also : a dramatic and often complicated story or series of events For many people, the process caps an already lengthy immigration saga— Nora Caplan-Bricker A federal appeals court hears arguments Tuesday in the legal saga of two film producers fighting long prison terms and prosecutions … — Jordan S. Rubin

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.

A Brief History of Saga

Saga was originally used to describe Icelandic prose narratives composed in the 12th and 13th centuries. The word first appeared in English in that sense during the 18th century; by the middle of the 19th century we were employing saga in a somewhat looser fashion, in reference to modern stories involving heroic deeds that bore some resemblance to the Icelandic tales of yore. By the 20th century saga had come to be applied to other written works, typically a novel or series of novels, especially those that took place over a significant period of time. Today the word may also be used to describe a long and drawn-out story that is either written or spoken (as in “my neighbor told me the saga of his divorce again”). Saga comes from an Old Norse word of the same spelling. It does not have any connection with the adjective sagacious (“possessing quick intellectual perceptions”), which comes from the Latin sagax (“sagacious”).

Examples of saga in a Sentence

the saga of a shipwrecked crew Her first novel was a family saga set in Iowa. Getting our car back turned into quite a saga.
Recent Examples on the Web Little more than four years ago, Quiñones had committed to the University of Memphis for the chance to play alongside Wiseman, only for an eligibility saga to limit them to just three games together. Connor Letourneau, San Francisco Chronicle, 14 July 2022 The saga began July 6 when Muna Mire, a producer for Desus & Mero, tweeted a flier from the Morritt's resort on Grand Cayman indicating that Hammer was working there as a concierge. Maureen Lee Lenker,, 14 July 2022 Plus, more from the Elon Musk and Twitter saga, and more. Taylor Wilson, USA TODAY, 13 July 2022 The ruling could eventually draw to a close the 45-year-old legal saga. Winston Cho, The Hollywood Reporter, 13 July 2022 On Tuesday, the iPhone 14 Plus delay saga delivered yet another twist. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 12 July 2022 Cathay shares sank during the 2019 saga, falling 30% from a high of $1.53 in April to a low of $1.08 in late September. Nicholas Gordon, Fortune, 12 July 2022 Auletta may not have cracked the case, but his book provides context that brings the Weinstein saga into sharp focus. Chris Vognar, Los Angeles Times, 11 July 2022 More than 3 million people read the saga and donated over $2 million. Helene Stapinksi, Washington Post, 11 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'saga.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of saga

1709, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for saga

Old Norse — more at saw

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Last Updated

17 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Saga.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jul. 2022.

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More Definitions for saga


sa·​ga | \ ˈsä-gə How to pronounce saga (audio) \

Kids Definition of saga

1 : a story of heroic deeds
2 : a long and often complicated story


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