Legendary (unlike mythical) means much more than ‘belonging to legend (or myth)’, it speaks of greatness and romance:

• Many tales arose out of this legendary mountain —The Times, 2002.

It is best kept for people and achievements that belong to the past or are strongly associated with it, where legend is rooted. To use legendary in the context of the present or the recent past invites anticlimax:

• ☒ Jahangir Khan, the legendary Pakistani player who is now President of the World Squash Federation —sport website, 2004 [OEC].

• ☒ We will hear his legendary recording of 1985 —BBC radio broadcast, 2005.

These uses have become popular since the extension of the parent word legend to refer to contemporary celebrities such as film stars and pop ‘idols’ (another such word, now giving way to icon). These uses of legendary raise our hopes only to dash them in mild absurdity. When it is used in contexts that are specifically centred on history and not legend the effect can be laughably incongruous:

• ☒ Oliver Stone's biopic of the legendary leader [Alexander the Great] who ruled faraway lands more than 300 years before the birth of Christ —Independent, 2004.

Use it sparingly.

Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Legendary — Leg end*a*ry (l[e^]j [e^]n*d[asl]*r[y^]), a. Of or pertaining to a legend or to legends; consisting of legends; like a legend; fabulous. Legendary writers. Bp. Lloyd. [1913 Webster] Legendary stories of nurses and old women. Bourne. [1913… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Legendary — Título Legendary Ficha técnica Dirección Mel Damski Guion John Posey Legendary es una película de drama de 2010 dirigida por Mel Damski. protagonizada por D …   Wikipedia Español

  • Legendary — Leg end*a*ry, n. [Cf. OF. legendaire, LL. legendarius.] 1. A book of legends; a tale or narrative. [1913 Webster] Read the Countess of Pembroke s Arcadia, a gallant legendary full of pleasurable accidents. James I. [1913 Webster] 2. One who… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • legendary — [adj1] fictitious but well known allegorical, apocryphal, created, customary, doubtful, dubious, fabled, fabricated, fabulous, fanciful, figmental, handed down, imaginary, imaginative, improbable, invented, mythical, mythological, related,… …   New thesaurus

  • legendary — I (famous) adjective acclaimed, celebrated, distinguished, eminent, epic, esteemed, exalted, fabled, famed, famous, heroic, illustrious, memorable, notable, outstanding, renowned II (fictitious) adjective apocryphal, fabled, fanciful, fictional,… …   Law dictionary

  • legendary — (adj.) mid 16c., from M.L. legendarius, from legenda (see LEGEND (Cf. legend)). Earlier it was a noun meaning a collection of legends (1510s) …   Etymology dictionary

  • legendary — mythical, apocryphal, fabulous, *fictitious …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • legendary — ► ADJECTIVE 1) of, described in, or based on legends. 2) remarkable enough to be famous. DERIVATIVES legendarily adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • legendary — [lej′ən der΄ē] adj. 1. of, based on, or presented in legends 2. a) remarkable; extraordinary b) well known; famous SYN. FICTITIOUS …   English World dictionary

  • Legendary — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom. Legendary peut faire référence à : Legendary (jeu vidéo) Legendary (film), un film américain sorti en 2010; Legendary Classics, un Best of de R.A.… …   Wikipédia en Français

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