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

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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web One astounding anecdote from a life overflowing with them. Chadd Scott, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 It’s no guarantee, because for every moment like this, there are 10 others that loop me back to the beginning of this anecdote — the discomfort, monotony and frustrating effort. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, 16 Jan. 2022 This joke has also been turned into a fake meme that has gotten a lot of play on Facebook about the Obamas — this exact anecdote, but told about Barack and Michelle Obama. Scott Tobias, Vulture, 2 Nov. 2021 This anecdote is focused on customers, yet the principle remains the same for your team. Joanna Swash, Forbes, 30 Aug. 2021 The most surprising anecdote Brown shares involves Andrew's ex-wife, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, 62, known as Fergie. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, 26 Apr. 2022 In a single letter, Walpole might wander from war to weddings to art and anecdote and aphorism. Catherine Ostler, WSJ, 15 Apr. 2022 Adam told me an anecdote that expressed the challenges of a contemporary dream incubation culture. Michael W. Clune, Harper’s Magazine , 16 Mar. 2022 Superintendent of Saraland City Schools Aaron Milner told the audience an anecdote to illustrate how Jones had gotten to the doorstep of the NFL. Mark Inabinett |, al, 4 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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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The first known use of anecdote was in 1718

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Last Updated

24 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Anecdote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for anecdote


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

More from Merriam-Webster on anecdote

Nglish: Translation of anecdote for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of anecdote for Arabic Speakers


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