History is an easy term to misunderstand, because most people think they understand what it refers to, when in fact they don’t. ‘History’ is not the same as ‘the past’ – the key concept to understand when dealing with this area of knowledge. This is a very common mistake in essays and presentations, and should be avoided at all costs! According to the OED…




noun (pl. histories) 1 the study of past events. 2 the past considered as a whole. 3 the past events connected with someone or something. 4 a continuous record of past events or trends.
— PHRASES be history informal be dismissed or dead; be finished. the rest is history the events succeeding those already related are so well known that they need not be recounted again.
— ORIGIN Greek historia ‘narrative, history’, from histor ‘learned, wise man’.

It’s that first definition that’s important: the study of past events; in other words, not the past itself, but our interaction with it. History is not the past. For that reason, history is constantly being updated and reviewed, and depends to some extent (though this is subject to a great deal of debate) on the perspective from which it is studied.

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