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

Definition of anecdote

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

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Synonyms for anecdote


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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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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 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 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 He told us all sorts of humorous anecdotes about his childhood. told us once again that anecdote about the dog and the bike
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Recent Examples on the Web But, though the real, full story is no doubt more complicated, the Tyler Perry anecdote sent a second message, too. Amy Davidson Sorkin, The New Yorker, "What Meghan and Harry’s Oprah Interview Clarifies for Americans—and Maybe the British, Too," 8 Mar. 2021 Watch the full anecdote here: Elsewhere in the interview, Prince Harry said his relationship with the queen is actually quite strong. Elizabeth Logan, Glamour, "Prince Harry Says the Queen Has Received Some ‘Really Bad’ Advice From Palace Aides," 8 Mar. 2021 The anecdote exemplifies a 2020-21 season that has been marred by four COVID pauses, three of them for 14 days. San Diego Union-Tribune, "USD’s yo-yo season has one final shot in WCC tourney," 3 Mar. 2021 To Allen, there's clear science to back up Royster's anecdote. Cheyenne Haslett, ABC News, "School debate rages on, despite CDC effort to set federal benchmarks," 18 Feb. 2021 The younger Biden has publicly recounted first trying the drug as a college student at Georgetown University, an anecdote that will likely be included in Beautiful Things. Naomi Lim, Washington Examiner, "After promising ethical administration, Biden pushes boundaries with son Hunter's book," 8 Feb. 2021 Instead, channel bosses planted her in their Chicago studio for an occasional anecdote and to contribute to in-game interviews. Phil Rosenthal,, "Boog Sciambi made his Chicago Cubs TV debut for Marquee Sports Network. Here’s how he did.," 3 Mar. 2021 The documentary also suffers from a few moments of repetition, when an anecdote told by one person, for instance, is retold by another voice. Isaac Schorr, National Review, "A Picture of Thomas Sowell," 7 Feb. 2021 After beginning with an anecdote about how, in 1883, the New York Sun incorporated advertisements, the post went on to detail the current state of journalism: The great journalistic totems of the last century are dying. Anna Wiener, The New Yorker, "Is Substack the Media Future We Want?," 28 Dec. 2020

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.

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First Known Use of anecdote

1718, 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

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Time Traveler for anecdote

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The first known use of anecdote was in 1718

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Last Updated

6 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Anecdote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for anecdote



English Language Learners Definition of anecdote

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


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

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