History (from Greek - historia, meaning "inquiry, knowledge acquired by investigation") is an umbrella term that relates to past events as well as the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about these events. The term includes cosmic, geologic, and organic history, but is often generically implied to mean human history. Scholars who write about history are called historians. History can also refer to the academic discipline which uses a narrative to examine and analyse a sequence of past events, and objectively determine the patterns of cause and effect that determine them.
Historians sometimes debate the nature of history and its usefulness by discussing the study of the discipline as an end in itself and as a way of providing "perspective" on the problems of the present. Stories common to a particular culture, but not supported by external sources (such as the tales surrounding King Arthur) are usually classified as cultural heritage or legends, because they do not support the "disinterested investigation" required of the discipline of history. Events occurring prior to written record are considered prehistory. Herodotus, a 5th century B.C. Greek historian is considered to be the "father of history", and, along with his contemporary Thucydides, helped form the foundations for the modern study of human history. Their influence has helped spawn variant interpretations of the nature of history which have evolved over the centuries and continue to change today. The modern study of history is wide-ranging, and includes the study of specific regions and the study of certain topical or thematical elements of historical investigation. Often history is taught as part of primary and secondary education, and the academic study of history is a major discipline in University studies. A derivation from *weid- "know" or "see" is attested as "the
econstructed etymon wid-tor ["one who knows"] (compare to English wit) a suffixed zero-grade form of the PIE root *weid- 'see' and so is related to Greek eidenai, to know". Ancient Greek ??? (histor) means "inquiry","knowledge from inquiry", or "judge". It was in that sense that Aristotle used the word in his ?? ? ?? (Peri Ta Zoa ?istoriai "Inquiries about Animals"). The ancestor word ? is attested early on in Homeric Hymns, Heraclitus, the Athenian ephebes' oath, and in Boiotic inscriptions (in a legal sense, either "judge" or "witness", or similar). The word entered the English language in 1390 with the meaning of "relation of incidents, story". In Middle English, the meaning was "story" in general. The restriction to the meaning "record of past events" arises in the late 15th century. It was still in the Greek sense that Francis Bacon used the term in the late 16th century, when he wrote about "Natural History". For him, historia was "the knowledge of objects determined by space and time", that sort of knowledge provided by memory (while science was provided by reason, and poetry was provided by fantasy). In an expression of the linguistic synthetic vs. analytic/isolating dichotomy, English like Chinese (? vs. ?) now designates separate words for human history and storytelling in general. In modern German, French, and most Germanic and Romance languages, which are solidly synthetic and highly inflected, the same word is still used to mean both "history" and "story". The adjective historical is attested from 1661, and historic from 1669. Historian in the sense of a "researcher of history" is attested from 1531. In all European languages, the substantive "history" is still used to mean both "what happened with men", and "the scholarly study of the happened", the latter sense sometimes distinguished with a capital letter, "History", or the word historiography