his·​to·​ry | \ ˈhi-st(ə-)rē How to pronounce history (audio) \
plural histories

Definition of history

1 : tale, story
2a : a chronological record of significant events (such as those affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes a history of Japan
b : a treatise presenting systematically related natural phenomena (as of geography, animals, or plants) an illustrated history of North American birds
c : an account of a patient's medical background reviewing her medical history
d : an established record a prisoner with a history of violence
3 : a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events medieval history
4a : events that form the subject matter of a history the history of space exploration
b : events of the past History has shown that such efforts rarely succeed.
c : one that is finished or done for the winning streak was history you're history
d : previous treatment, handling, or experience (as of a metal) a history of repeated exposure to freezing temperatures

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for history


annals, chronicle, record

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of history in a Sentence

I studied history in college. a professor of medieval history They were one of the greatest teams in history. It was one of the most destructive storms in modern history. It was a period in American history when most people lived and worked on farms. The history of space exploration is a fascinating topic. He wrote a well-known history of the British empire. The book begins with a brief history of the Internet.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The Department is worried that [Marie’s] safety and well-being will be jeopardized if Ms. Chamberland or [her boyfriend] are unable to be consistent with treatment to address their substance abuse history. Globe Staff, BostonGlobe.com, "She’s been bounced through more than a dozen foster homes. And she’s just 6," 24 Aug. 2019 Charlie and Jessica's dynamic is obviously different — Jessica is reluctant to be friends with anyone on the baseball team, given her history with them. Elena Nicolaou, refinery29.com, "Is Charlie Saint Of 13 Reasons Why Just Another Toxic Athlete?," 24 Aug. 2019 In addition, the 33-year-old event was extended to two days, a first in its history. John-henry Perera, Houston Chronicle, "Crowd again entranced by beautiful sandcastles at 2019 Galveston competition," 24 Aug. 2019 To avoid another display of division, the group will not even attempt to sign a communique this year — the first time in its 44-year history. Editors, USA TODAY, "G-7 summit, college football and Amazon wildfires: 5 things to know this weekend," 24 Aug. 2019 If that happened, the consequences for millions of Americans could be dire, for insurers would once again be permitted to reject or surcharge consumers based on their medical histories, placing coverage beyond their reach. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Trump is proposing to reduce the employer health insurance system to utter chaos," 23 Aug. 2019 Wales continues to reveal new aspects of its rich history. Fox News, "Archaeologists uncover ancient fort’s secrets before it falls into the sea," 23 Aug. 2019 The feature allows users to separate their internet browsing history from their personal profiles. Bloomberg, The Mercury News, "Judge in Facebook sex-trafficking case blocks new privacy feature," 23 Aug. 2019 After generations of ignoring Aboriginal appeals, the country is now a world leader in returning human remains as a form of apology for its tragic colonial history. David Maurice Smith, Smithsonian, "A 42,000-Year-Old Man Finally Goes Home," 23 Aug. 2019

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

See More

First Known Use of history

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for history

Middle English histoire, historie, from Anglo-French estoire, histoire, from Latin historia, from Greek, inquiry, history, from histōr, istōr knowing, learned; akin to Greek eidenai to know — more at wit

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about history

Statistics for history

Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for history

The first known use of history was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for history



English Language Learners Definition of history

: the study of past events
: events of the past
: past events that relate to a particular subject, place, organization, etc.


his·​to·​ry | \ ˈhi-stə-rē How to pronounce history (audio) \
plural histories

Kids Definition of history

1 : events of the past and especially those relating to a particular place or subject European history
2 : a branch of knowledge that records and explains past events
3 : a written report of past events She wrote a history of the Internet.
4 : an established record of past events His criminal history is well-known.


his·​to·​ry | \ ˈhis-t(ə-)rē How to pronounce history (audio) \
plural histories

Medical Definition of history

: an account of a patient's family and personal background and past and present health

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on history

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with history

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for history

Spanish Central: Translation of history

Nglish: Translation of history for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of history for Arabic Speakers

Comments on history

What made you want to look up history? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


authorized for issue (as a bond)

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!