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

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 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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web This is part nine of the Brewer family saga during the COVID-19 sheltering period. Mary Jane Brewer, cleveland, "The Brewer family ventures out after 9 weeks of sheltering in place," 25 May 2020 In writing the scientific half of the saga — the story of our attempts to understand schizophrenia — Kolker found reason to be optimistic. Kate Tuttle, Los Angeles Times, "Schizophrenia devastated a family: Robert Kolker did their story justice," 7 Apr. 2020 That is just the start of a saga involving five characters and three continents. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, "Adam Schlesinger, Who Sang of Suburban Misfits, Dies of Coronavirus at 52," 3 Apr. 2020 Both parties argue that the outcome of the monthslong impeachment saga will play to their advantage this fall. NBC News, "'One place left to hold him accountable': Trump acquittal raises stakes for Democrats," 6 Feb. 2020 Still, Bezos can take comfort from one aspect of the HQ2 saga. Bloomberg Wire, Dallas News, "Behind Amazon’s HQ2 fiasco, Jeff Bezos wanted incentives like Elon Musk’s," 3 Feb. 2020 In the case of the American Dirt saga, the problematic marketing machine got to work early and often. Ellen Mcgirt, Fortune, "‘American Dirt’ falls in the mud," 31 Jan. 2020 In the final major decision of the four-year saga, the European Parliament voted 621 to 49 in favor of the Brexit deal that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson negotiated with the other 27 EU leaders late last year. Fox News, "EU backs terms of Brexit deal, UK set to leave Friday," 30 Jan. 2020 For a certain type of videogame fan, 2019 also marked another major ending: the ending of the Kingdom Hearts saga. Julie Muncy, Wired, "Kingdom Hearts III Re: Mind Is the Antidote to Bad Endings," 29 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.

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

Statistics for saga

Last Updated

2 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Saga.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


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!