anecdote

noun
an·​ec·​dote | \ ˈa-nik-ˌdōt How to pronounce anecdote (audio) \
plural anecdotes also anecdota\ ˌa-​nik-​ˈdō-​tə How to pronounce anecdota (audio) \

Definition of anecdote

: a usually short narrative of an interesting, amusing, or biographical incident

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for anecdote

Synonyms

story, tale, yarn

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

The Greek Smear Job at the Root of Anecdote

The Byzantine official Procopius wrote three historical works in Greek. In the first two, he dealt with wars and public works projects, but the third was something of a departure from this kind of history. Referred to as "Anekdota," from the Greek a- meaning "not," and ekdidonai, meaning "to publish," it contained bitter attacks on the emperor Justinian, his wife, and other notables of contemporary Constantinople. Understandably, it was not published until after its writer's death. English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.

Examples of anecdote in a Sentence

Like many Jesuits who then ate most of their meals in refectories, McKenzie was a master raconteur with endless anecdotes, stories, and one-liners. — Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, Commonweal, 11 Sept. 2009 If Antony had won, of course, the story would have been very different. Indeed, despite the dominance of the Augustan version of events, a few hostile anecdotes about the young Octavian probably offer a glimpse of what Antony's side was saying. — Mary Beard, New York Review of Books, 12 Feb. 2009 Alexander's use of the family's private papers—the Waughs were prolific writers of letters and diaries as well as books—not only adds richly to the entertainment value of his account but also serves to illuminate just how tangled are the threads of filial love, hurt, awe, and competitiveness that run through their work. Although he ranges freely over two centuries of family anecdotes, amusing and appalling by turn, the dominant figure here is, as it should be, Evelyn. — Evelyn Toynton, Harper's, August 2007 Any competent science reporter knows anecdotes are not data and that one dramatic story proves nothing. Editor & Publisher, 4 Nov. 2002 Deeply convinced of her own unattractiveness, frequently lonely and unimaginably needy, Joplin was a person who lived all over the page. It is impossible to read about her and not crave more anecdotes and personal details of such a wanton, tragic life. — Kim France, New York Times Book Review, 2 May 1999 He told us all sorts of humorous anecdotes about his childhood. told us once again that anecdote about the dog and the bike
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

View Sample Sign Up Now Holland then shared an anecdote about going to the gym to work out with Gyllenhaal in which both of their competitive tendencies came out to play during a treadmill race. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Stephen Colbert Presents the Proof That Jake Gyllenhaal Truly Adores Tom Holland," 25 June 2019 Rodriguez said the biggest challenge has been learning when to join into the conversation with Matt Vasgersian and Jessica Mendoza, along with still discovering when would be the proper time to interject an anecdote about a player or manager. Joe Reedy, chicagotribune.com, "Alex Rodriguez wants to be better in the ESPN baseball booth: ‘I think the flow between all of us is improving’," 24 June 2019 The following year, a Vanity Fair essay by Lady Gabriella's ex-boyfriend Aatish Taseer shared an anecdote about the Princess naming two black sheep Venus and Serena. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Who Is Lady Gabriella Windsor's Mother, Princess Michael of Kent," 17 May 2019 Show Your Sense of Humor People love a good laugh (and probably expect it), so tell a joke or sprinkle a funny anecdote or two into your speech. Country Living, "How to Write the Best Maid of Honor Speech," 16 May 2019 But the new family of three actually had a run-in with Philip while heading to today's photo call, according to a sweet anecdote shared by new mom Meghan. Maggie Maloney, Town & Country, "Prince Harry and Meghan Markle "Bumped Into" Prince Philip With Baby Sussex at Windsor Castle," 8 May 2019 The late, great jazz writer Nat Hentoff was much enamored of a certain anecdote about Charlie Parker, the legendary saxophonist and modern jazz innovator. Will Friedwald, WSJ, "‘Pick Up My Pieces: Gabrielle Stravelli Sings Willie Nelson’ Review: Jazz That Heads Down Home," 18 Apr. 2019 McCubbin shares a personal anecdote about an impulse post-breakup purchase of a $400 pair of too-small jeans. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "This is What's Actually Keeping You From KonMari'ing Your House," 3 Apr. 2019 But every so often, even in the midst of a jokey anecdote, Ms. Mulligan’s Woman stretches her long neck and tilts her chin upward. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Carey Mulligan Tells a Harrowing Tale of ‘Girls & Boys’," 27 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'anecdote.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of anecdote

circa 1721, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for anecdote

French, from Greek anekdota unpublished items, from neuter plural of anekdotos unpublished, from a- + ekdidonai to publish, from ex out + didonai to give — more at ex-, date

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about anecdote

Listen to Our Podcast about anecdote

Statistics for anecdote

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for anecdote

The first known use of anecdote was circa 1721

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for anecdote

anecdote

noun

English Language Learners Definition of anecdote

: a short story about an interesting or funny event or occurrence

anecdote

noun
an·​ec·​dote | \ ˈa-nik-ˌdōt How to pronounce anecdote (audio) \

Kids Definition of anecdote

: a short story about something interesting or funny in a person's life

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on anecdote

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with anecdote

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for anecdote

Spanish Central: Translation of anecdote

Nglish: Translation of anecdote for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of anecdote for Arabic Speakers

Comments on anecdote

What made you want to look up anecdote? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!