anecdote

noun
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

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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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

Fighter jets and 21st-century burgers As Wilson's anecdote illustrates, where there are fans, there's often tribalism. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "Open mind, wide open throttle: We go to our first NASCAR race," 15 Nov. 2018 Attending a Kensington Palace reception for inspirational teenagers as part of the Radio 1 Teen Awards this weekend, Prince William shared a cute anecdote of how his son perfectly reminds him of his mother. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince William on the Sweet Connection that Son Prince George Shares With Princess Diana," 22 Oct. 2018 While there some anecdotes about the fashion world, at its heart, the book is about a young man finding his way in the big city. Liz Cantrell, Town & Country, "The Five Books Everyone Will Be Talking About in September," 5 Sep. 2018 Instead, German and Polish volunteers were sharing tips about military clothes and historic anecdotes with their French, Australian and English neighbors at the encampment. Sylvie Corbet, Fox News, "Volunteers re-enact World War I encampment in Verdun, France," 25 Aug. 2018 But anecdotes don’t prove whether or not a diet is legit. Abby Langer, SELF, "I'm a Registered Dietitian and I Really Don't Want You to Eat a Carnivore Diet," 7 Aug. 2018 As is the custom at Caveat, audiences can expect to be entertained but also learn about profiling through anecdotes as well as data and research. Kasia Pilat, New York Times, "7 Comedy Shows to Catch in N.Y.C. This Weekend," 12 July 2018 On occasion the segues into gypsy anecdotes seem forced; the frequent narrative leaps can be disorienting. The Economist, "A British traveller’s travelogue," 12 July 2018 Baldwin is in an especially chatty mood, lapsing into voices and surfing from one funny anecdote to the next. Hank Stuever, chicagotribune.com, "'Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee' review: Series finally run out of gas — but is that Seinfeld's fault?," 9 July 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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Statistics for anecdote

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

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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 \

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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