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apocryphal

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adjective apoc·ry·phal \ə-ˈpä-krə-fəl\

Simple Definition of apocryphal

  • : well-known but probably not true

Full Definition of apocryphal

  1. 1 :  of doubtful authenticity :  spurious

  2. 2 often capitalized :  of or resembling the Apocrypha

apoc·ry·phal·ly play \-fə-lē\ adverb
apoc·ry·phal·ness noun

Examples of apocryphal

  1. During these men's professional lives, Wall Street has become accustomed to getting what it wants from Washington. America's top bankers have an even longer history of not giving a hoot what the public thinks. Sample (possibly apocryphal) quote from the original J.P. Morgan: “ I owe the public nothing.” —Daniel Gross, Newsweek, 23 Feb. 2009

  2. True or apocryphal, the story of the invention of the fried Ipswich clam—Mr. Woodman, faced with a huge vat of hot oil for his potato chips and a mess of clams harvested from the mud flats of his home town, reportedly had a eureka moment—is unabashed gospel for lovers of this regional specialty. —Nancy Harmon Jenkins, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2002

  3. There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about Leonard Bernstein and tax returns. On the line that asked him to list his profession, Bernstein didn't write “conductor” or “composer,” or “pianist,” or “teacher.” He simply wrote, “musician.” —Bari Walsh, Bostonia, Winter 2000-2001

  4. an apocryphal story about the president's childhood



Origin of apocryphal

(see apocrypha)


First Known Use: 1590

Synonym Discussion of apocryphal

fictitious, fabulous, legendary, mythical, apocryphal mean having the nature of something imagined or invented. fictitious implies fabrication and suggests artificiality or contrivance more than deliberate falsification or deception <fictitious characters>. fabulous stresses the marvelous or incredible character of something without necessarily implying impossibility or actual nonexistence <a land of fabulous riches>. legendary suggests the elaboration of invented details and distortion of historical facts produced by popular tradition <the legendary exploits of Davy Crockett>. mythical implies a purely fanciful explanation of facts or the creation of beings and events out of the imagination <mythical creatures>. apocryphal implies an unknown or dubious source or origin or may imply that the thing itself is dubious or inaccurate <a book that repeats many apocryphal stories>.

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