- history (n.)
- late 14c., "relation of incidents" (true or false), from Old French estoire, estorie "chronicle, history, story" (12c., Modern French histoire), from Latin historia "narrative of past events, account, tale, story," from Greek historia "a learning or knowing by inquiry; an account of one's inquiries, history, record, narrative," from historein "inquire," from histor "wise man, judge," from PIE *wid-tor-, from root *weid- "to know," literally "to see" (see vision).
Related to Greek idein "to see," and to eidenai "to know." In Middle English, not differentiated from story; sense of "record of past events" probably first attested late 15c. As a branch of knowledge, from 1842. Sense of "systematic account (without reference to time) of a set of natural phenomena" (1560s) is now obsolete except in natural history.
One difference between history and imaginative literature ... is that history neither anticipates nor satisfies our curiosity, whereas literature does. [Guy Davenport, "Wheel Ruts," 1996]