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

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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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

One show looks back at the Casey Anthony saga with a trial expert. Hal Boedeker,, "Casey Anthony: Bill Sheaffer looks back for WFTV," 11 July 2018 If that feels like a long time, brace yourself: Variety reports the fifth installment of the saga will miss its July 2020 release date, stuck in the throes of development due to issues with the script. Emma Krupp, RedEye Chicago, "A Chance-Kanye collaboration, Infinity Mirror Room popping up in Chicago, and more conversation starters for your weekend," 6 July 2018 The saga began early Sunday when a federal judge, Rogério Favreto, who has ties to Mr. da Silva’s leftist Workers’ Party, ordered the former president’s release. New York Times, "Judge Orders Brazil to Release Ex-President Lula, Setting Off Legal Uproar," 8 July 2018 The saga began as early as 2002, when researchers found the chemical acrylamide in an array of foods. David Z. Morris, Fortune, "Coffee Doesn't Cause Cancer After All, Says California Health Regulator," 16 June 2018 The whole saga began when Semedo was reported to have assaulted an unnamed man (with the help of two others), brought him into the defender's home, and kept him locked in a room, tied up., "La Liga Star Accused of Attempted Murder Set to Remain in Custody After Failed Appeal," 28 May 2018 The saga began in 2015, when Microsoft made the strange, unexpected move of releasing a free-to-play Halo multiplayer shooter … only for PC … and only in Russia. Julie Muncy, WIRED, "Saying Goodbye to the Fan Game That Recreated a Decade-Old Classic," 11 May 2018 Below, a timeline of the significant developments in the Donald Trump-Stormy Daniels saga since The Wall Street Journal in January broke the news of the payment. WSJ, "Timeline of the Donald Trump-Stormy Daniels Saga," 3 May 2018 However, a new chapter to this saga began in January, one that local leaders like Womack and Mitchell hope will rally the neighborhood and bring in grant money and tourism. Nick Tabor, Daily Intelligencer, "Africatown and the 21st-Century Stain of Slavery," 2 May 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.

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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

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for saga

The first known use of saga was in 1709

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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

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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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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