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

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Synonyms for anecdote

Synonyms

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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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

Some anecdotes are cheering, but measurement is tricky beyond looking at rates of rearrests. The Economist, "America’s most interesting sheriff," 8 Aug. 2019 During the graduation, participants were called up by their job coach where they were given praise, congratulated and had an anecdote shared about them. Akira Kyles, baltimoresun.com/maryland/carroll, "The Arc in Carroll County honors record-breaking graduating class," 8 Aug. 2019 About an hour into the first-ever show at Mission Ballroom, The Lumineers’ Wesley Shultz shared a poignant anecdote. Dylan Owens, The Know, "With Mission Ballroom, Denver finally has the concert venue it deserves," 8 Aug. 2019 One paper, published in a July 2017 issue of the journal PS, offers an anecdote that encapsulates prevailing biases in political science. Sarah Todd, Quartz at Work, "A top US political science journal ignored race and gender—until 12 women took over," 31 July 2019 To listen to Chance is to absorb a mix of social messaging and personal anecdotes spiced with hammy humor and broad applause lines—not unlike with a vote-seeker’s memoir. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "Chance the Rapper Wants You to Get Married," 30 July 2019 A few of the stories broach a serious social topic or two, but most read like anecdotes. Joseph Peschel | For The Oregonian/oregonlive, oregonlive.com, "Chuck Klosterman’s new short story collection ranges from topical tidbits to questionable gimmicks," 28 July 2019 An old political anecdote goes like this: When an American tourist to USSR, touting freedom in U.S., claimed anyone can say Nixon is unfit to be U.S. president, he was told anyone can say that in USSR too. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Trump attacks all who defy him, including ‘the Squad’," 25 July 2019 Working from a cozy set with a smattering of Hollywood trinkets, Dorian introduced films from the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s, offering anecdotes of revered classics, B-movies and serials. Richard Sandomir, SFChronicle.com, "Bob Dorian — host for historic movies on AMC," 1 July 2019

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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Statistics for anecdote

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for anecdote

The first known use of anecdote was circa 1721

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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

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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

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