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

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web In the ongoing saga unfolding around the Biden family, Hunter Biden is currently tied up in a paternity case settlement. Elly Belle,, "Inside Hunter Biden & Lunden Alexis Roberts’ Relationship & Paternity Suit," 28 Jan. 2020 That was an ongoing saga for a few days and resulted in the arrest of a man and the return of his clubs. Kent Somers, azcentral, "Price is right, crowds are small -- plenty of value during first days of Phoenix Open week," 28 Jan. 2020 The ongoing saga of who is really running Auburn’s offense took another turn this week, as Gus Malzahn told reporters new offensive coordinator Chad Morris would call plays during the 2020 season. Creg Stephenson |, al, " All-Access: How much might Chad Morris improve Auburn’s offense?," 23 Jan. 2020 The ruling by Supreme Judicial Court Associate Justice Scott L. Kafker is the latest development in the ongoing drug lab saga involving former state chemist Sonja Farak., "The state failed in its duty to investigate the work of a drug-addled chemist at a Boston laboratory whose flawed tests at another state lab led to the dismissal of thousands of convictions, a single justice of the state’s highest court ruled Thursday.," 18 Oct. 2019 In communities ravaged with violence, the story of Kelley’s killing has merged into the ongoing saga of retaliatory shootings that paralyze investigations and allow criminals to roam free. Dahleen Glanton,, "Column: Chicago needs a fully funded witness protection program for those who risk their lives to testify," 18 Sep. 2019 Aside from trade conflicts, CFOs across all industries will be watching the Brexit saga unfold and monitoring a potential global slowdown. Mark Maurer, WSJ, "Retail CFOs Grow More Cautious About Investment and Expansion in 2020," 24 Jan. 2020 The saga begins with Bell’s Eleanor Shellstrop opening her eyes outside the office of the avuncular Michael (Danson). Judy Berman, Time, "The Good Place Became the Last Great Sitcom on Network TV by Daring Its Audience to Be Better," 23 Jan. 2020 Vogel has continued to report on the Bidens and Ukraine and the unfolding impeachment saga. Daniel Chaitin, Washington Examiner, "Laura Ingraham shows emails tying alleged Ukraine whistleblower to Obama White House meeting on Burisma," 23 Jan. 2020

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.

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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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Statistics for saga

Last Updated

11 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Saga.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for saga


How to pronounce saga (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of saga

: a long and complicated story with many details
: a long and complicated series of events
: a long story about past heroes from Norway and Iceland


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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More from Merriam-Webster on saga

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for saga

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with saga

Spanish Central: Translation of saga

Nglish: Translation of saga for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of saga for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about saga

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