sa·​ga | \ˈsä-gə 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

Keep scrolling for more

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 is 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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

But his saga is a sad reminder of the hostility that progressive politicians and other government officials are directing at people of faith who dare to voice unfashionable opinions. Jason L. Riley, WSJ, "A Fire Chief Burned by Progressive Piety," 23 Oct. 2018 And with that, my eight-year-long lip saga has come to an end. Andrea Cheng, Glamour, "Tatcha's Jelly Mask Smooths Your Lips Like No Lip Balm Can," 28 Sep. 2018 There is one more important part to this whole saga, though. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "“Riverdale” Stars KJ Apa and Lili Reinhart Totally Troll Bughead Fans on Instagram," 4 Sep. 2018 Marvel’s superhero saga, which also happens to be the year’s most popular film, was considered a shoo-in for a best picture nod. Dan Barna, Teen Vogue, "Chadwick Boseman Thinks "Black Panther" Should Be Nominated for Best Picture," 31 Aug. 2018 With a narrative form that has something of the beauty and rippling reach of epic poetry, Massini uses his family saga to craft a parable of what, arguably, has been the final nail in the coffin of the American Dream. Demetrios Matheou, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lehman Trilogy': Theater Review," 13 July 2018 Their saga has become a diplomatic hot potato in Europe, where anti-immigrant sentiment and strained resources have butted up against migrants arriving by the thousands. Doug Criss, CNN, "5 things for June 14: Russia probe, interest rates, North Korea, migrants, World Cup," 14 June 2018 Clinton maintained a 90% approval rating among Democrats through the end of his impeachment saga in 1999. Tessa Berenson, Time, "Donald Trump’s Campaign to Discredit the Russia Investigation May Be Working. It’s Also Damaging American Democracy," 7 June 2018 His memories of his draft saga are not entirely fond. Hunter Atkins, Houston Chronicle, "Astros' A.J. Hinch looks back on his three times in the MLB Draft," 5 June 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of saga

1709, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for saga

Old Norse — more at saw

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about saga

Dictionary Entries near saga








Statistics for saga

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for saga

The first known use of saga was in 1709

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for saga



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 \

Kids Definition of saga

1 : a story of heroic deeds

2 : a long and often complicated story

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on saga

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


a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


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!