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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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

Paul Gascoigne Every player in the 90's has an anecdote to tell about Paul Gascoigne. SI.com, "6 Players That Never Grew Up," 24 June 2018 Sharpe and Patterson also say that an anecdote Patterson relayed in 2000, of which an audio recording was recently published online, has been taken out of context. Daniel Burke, CNN, "'A foretaste of the wrath of God:' Southern Baptists to confront scandals at national meeting," 11 June 2018 Fine points of fact mingle with contextual anecdotes, bringing clarity and depth to Mickey’s long and complicated narrative. John Canemaker, WSJ, "Book Review: Building a Better Mouse," 18 Jan. 2019 Spiro deftly balances big-picture discussions of Progressive-era nativism with anecdotes that give you a picture of Grant’s day-to-day life: part purveyor of monstrous ideas, part quirky outdoorsman. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Menomonee Falls writer Ratay blends personal narrative with friendly anecdotes about America's love of road tripping. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "85 books for summer reading," 18 May 2018 His straightforward prose and personal anecdotes make all of it eminently digestible. David Holahan, USA TODAY, "Who are we? Will Storr's new book 'Selfie' asks the tough question," 26 Mar. 2018 The publication also features stories about family, travel, and personal anecdotes from the Pioneer Woman herself. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "The First Issue of Ree Drummond's New Magazine Almost Sold Out in One Week," 21 June 2017 This isn't the first time Charles has told this particular anecdote, though. Sara Delgado, Teen Vogue, "Charles Melton Found Out About "The Sun Is Also a Star" on Twitter," 28 Nov. 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

24 Apr 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

having no equal

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!