an·​ec·​dote | \ˈa-nik-ˌdōt \
plural anecdotes also anecdota\ ˌa-​nik-​ˈdō-​tə \

Definition of anecdote 

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

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Synonyms for anecdote


story, tale, yarn

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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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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 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
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Recent Examples on the Web

The singer later shared an emotional anecdote about her career. Gab Ginsberg, Billboard, "Halsey Got the Governors Ball Main Stage Smoking With Her Best Hits -- and Actual Fire," 2 June 2018 There’s a great anecdote about a young Andres Iniesta, early in his Barcelona days, that is well known among the Barça faithful. Luis Miguel Echegaray,, "Gracias, Andrés: In Appreciation of Iniesta, Barcelona's Midfield Legend," 26 Apr. 2018 At other times, Kavanaugh slipped in anecdotes about coaching his daughters in basketball — and even attending this year's women's Final Four. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "Brett Kavanaugh’s remarkably political intro speech," 10 July 2018 Whatever their experiences, Lee always had a humorous anecdote to relay to all., "Deaths in South Florida: 6/24," 24 June 2018 Allison is a proponent of people connecting more with their own anecdotes. Trevor Fraser,, "Kevin Allison gets Risk-y in Orlando," 8 June 2018 Although the assault took place in 2006, Schulman recounted it as a quirky anecdote in 2014 — plenty of time for MTV to have rethought its hosting decisions in the meantime. Megan Farokhmanesh, The Verge, "Catfish host Nev Schulman accused of sexual misconduct," 17 May 2018 In another anecdote conveyed by her supporters, she is said to have been shot at by Iranians while hastily leaving a clandestine meeting in an undisclosed country. Ken Dilanian /, NBC News, "Why do so many spies support Gina Haspel to head the CIA? That's classified," 8 May 2018 In anecdotes described in the lawsuit, travelers described officers manually searching unlocked phones in front of them and demanding passcodes for locked phones and laptops. Bart Jansen, USA TODAY, "CBP: More fliers being asked to allow access to phones, devices," 8 Jan. 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.

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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

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Last Updated

23 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for anecdote

The first known use of anecdote was circa 1721

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English Language Learners Definition of anecdote

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


an·​ec·​dote | \ˈa-nik-ˌdōt \

Kids Definition of anecdote

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

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


full of whispering sounds

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