Simple Definition of apocryphal
: well-known but probably not true
Examples of apocryphal in a sentence
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
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
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
an apocryphal story about the president's childhood
Did You Know?
In Bible study, the term "Apocrypha" refers to sections of the Bible that are not sanctioned as belonging to certain official canons. In some Protestant versions these sections appear between the Old and New Testaments. More generally, the word refers to writings or statements whose purported origin is in doubt. Consequently, the adjective "apocryphal" describes things like legends and anecdotes that are purported to be true by way of repeated tellings but that have never been proven or verified and therefore most likely are not factual. Both "apocrypha" and "apocryphal" derive via Latin from the Greek verb apokryptein, meaning "to hide away," from "kryptein" ("to hide").
Origin of apocryphal
First Known Use: 1590
Synonym Discussion of apocryphal
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up apocryphal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).