late 14c., "relation of incidents" (true or false), from Old French estoire, estorie "story; chronicle, history" (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; knowledge, account, historical account, record, narrative," from historein "be witness or expert; give testimony, recount; find out, search, inquire," and histōr "knowing, expert; witness," both ultimately from PIE *wid-tor-, from root *weid- "to see," hence "to know."
It is thus related to Greek idein "to see," and to eidenai "to know." Beekes writes of histōr that "The word itself, but especially the derivations ... that arose in Ionic, have spread over the Hellenic and Hellenistic world together with Ionic science and philosophy."
In Middle English, not differentiated from story (n.1); sense of "narrative record of past events" probably first attested late 15c. Meaning "the recorded events of the past" is from late 15c. As a branch of knowledge, from late 15c. Meaning "a historical play or drama" is from 1590s. Sense of "systematic account (without reference to time) of a set of natural phenomena" (1560s) is now obsolete except in natural history (as late as the 1880s published county histories in the U.S. routinely included natural history chapters, with lists of birds and fishes and illustrations of local slugs and freshwater clams). Meaning "an eventful career, a past worthy of note" (a woman with a history) is from 1852. To make history "be notably engaged in public events" is from 1862.
History is the interpretation of the significance that the past has for us. [Johan Huizinga, "The Task of the Cultural Historian"]
History is more or less bunk [Henry Ford, Chicago Tribune, May 25, 1916]
One difference between history and imaginative literature ... is that history neither anticipates nor satisfies our curiosity, whereas literature does. [Guy Davenport, "Wheel Ruts," 1996]
"floor of a building," c. 1400, from Anglo-Latin historia "floor of a building" (c. 1200), also "picture," from Latin historia (see history). "Perhaps so called because the front of buildings in the Middle Ages often were decorated with rows of painted windows" [Barnhart].
early 15c., "of or pertaining to history, conveying information from the past," with -al (1) + Latin historicus "of history, historical," from Greek historikos "historical; of or for inquiry," from historia (see history). For sense differentiation, see historic. Meaning "narrated or mentioned in history" (as opposed to what is fiction or legend) is from 1843. Related: Historically.
"an author of history," mid-15c., as if from Medieval Latin *historianus, from Latin historia "narrative of past events; narrative account, report" (see history). Compare Old French ystorïen (adj.). As "writer of history in the higher sense" (distinguished from an annalist or chronicler), from 1530s. An Old English word was þeod-wita, also wyrd-writere "one who writes an account of events, a historian or historiographer" (see weird). The classical Latin word was historicus (adj.) used as a noun. Holinshed has historician.
[T]he historian's fallacy is the error of assuming that a man who has a given historical experience knows it, when he has had it, to be all that a historian would know it to be, with the advantage of historical perspective. [David Hackett Fischer, "Historians' Fallacies," 1970]
"connected account or narration of some happening," c. 1200, originally "narrative of important events or celebrated persons of the past," from Old French estorie, estoire "story, chronicle, history," from Late Latin storia, shortened from Latin historia "history, account, tale, story" (see history).
A story is by derivation a short history, and by development a narrative designed to interest and please. [Century Dictionary]
Meaning "recital of true events" first recorded late 14c.; sense of "narrative of fictitious events meant to entertain" is from c. 1500. Not differentiated from history until 1500s. For the sense evolution compare Gaelic seanachas "history, antiquity," also "story, tale, narration," from sean "old, ancient" + cuis "a matter, affair, circumstance."
As a euphemism for "a lie" it dates from 1690s. Meaning "newspaper article" is from 1892. Story-line first attested 1941. That's another story "that requires different treatment" is attested from 1818. Story of my life "sad truth" first recorded 1938, from typical title of an autobiography.
c. 1300, naturel, "of one's inborn character; hereditary, innate, by birth or as if by birth;" early 14c. "of the world of nature (especially as opposed to man)," from Old French naturel "of nature, conforming to nature; by birth," and directly from Latin naturalis "by birth, according to nature," from natura "nature" (see nature).
Of events, features, etc., "existing in nature as a result of natural forces" (that is, not caused by accident, human agency, or divine intervention), late 14c. From late 14c. of properties, traits, qualities, "proper, suitable, appropriate to character or constitution;" from late 15c. as "native, native-born." Also late 15c. as "not miraculous, in conformity with nature," hence "easy, free from affectation" (c. 1600). Of objects or substances, "not artificially cultivated or created, existing in nature" c. 1400. As a euphemism for "illegitimate, bastard" (of children), it is recorded from c. 1400, on the notion of blood kinship (but not legal status).
Natural science, that pertaining to physical nature, is from late 14c.; natural history meaning more or less the same thing is from 1560s (see history). Natural law "the expression of right reason or the dictate of religion inhering in nature and man and having ethically binding force as a rule of civil conduct" is from late 14c. Natural order "apparent order in nature" is from 1690s. Natural childbirth is attested by 1898. Natural life, usually in reference to the duration of life, is from mid-15c.; natural death, one without violence or accident, is from mid-15c. To die of natural causes is from 1570s.
also pre-history, "the human past prior to recorded history," 1866, perhaps a back-formation from prehistoric. Related: Prehistorian.