The Ngram says here that both expressions are used; however, I think "the history" is the correct expression because there is one history like when you write "the sun". On the other hand, my gut is telling me that "in history" is the word. I think only a native English speaker can tell which one I should use in formal situation.

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    You're completely mistaken in your logic. We would never include an article when referring to all of history collectively unless it was "qualified" in some way - The history of Earth is very different to that of Mars or Venus. That's to say you can only refer to the history of [something / someone]. In contexts where you're referring to all of [human] history, such as History teaches us to be wary of new ideas, you don't include an article. Think of it more as a kind of "proper noun" (referring to a single thing). Jul 6, 2019 at 16:13
  • @FumbleFingers Great explanation my fellow developer! you just made it clear that "actually" there are more than one history, and this is strange but clear.
    – Costa
    Jul 6, 2019 at 16:27

1 Answer 1


It depends on whether you mean "history" as the broad concept, or as a concrete example with a narrower focus. Both are fine in a formal context.

He is the greatest general in history

He is the greatest general in the history of Europe

Additionally, you can still reference the concept, but limit to a particular subset:

He is the greatest general in European history.

Note there are many English nouns that act in the same way, for example "cuisine":

It is the most difficult dish in all cuisine.

It is the most difficult dish in all of the cuisine of India.

It is the most difficult dish in all Indian cuisine.

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