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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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

But his trade war is turning the anecdotes against him, and there are growing signs of trouble, even as the war officially began Friday. Aaron Blake, chicagotribune.com, "How Trump's trade war with China could go sideways on him," 8 July 2018 But his trade war is turning the anecdotes against him, and there are growing signs of trouble, even as the war officially began Friday. Aaron Blake, Washington Post, "How Trump’s trade war with China could go sideways on him," 7 July 2018 The anecdote carries the weight of a parable for an actor, who early on was underestimated by some. Jeffrey Fleishman, latimes.com, "Mary Steenburgen knows how to coax a laugh but is equally at home with the dark side," 11 May 2018 This is one of the lighter anecdotes Bynes shares in her chat with Paper, which outlines her former substance abuse issues and eyebrow-raising behavior that made her tabloid fodder in 2013. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Amanda Bynes Says She Fought to Get Channing Tatum in She's the Man," 27 Nov. 2018 Iskandar’s Listserv for State Farm policyholders across the region overflows with anecdotes of indignity. Susie Cagle, Curbed, "California’s changing fire country," 10 Oct. 2018 That’s exactly the kind of anecdote Trump would love to share at Monday’s dramatic nomination ceremony. Margaret Hartmann, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Supreme Court Pageant Could Come Down to Looks," 5 July 2018 The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge also shared anecdotes about their other two children during today's visit to Cyprus. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Says Prince Louis Is Practicing His Royal Wave," 5 Dec. 2018 James Somers’ story is full of terrific anecdotes about Google’s early days: When a car goes around a turn, more ground must be covered by the outside wheels; likewise, the outer edge of a spinning hard disk moves faster than the inner one. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Google’s appearance before Congress will mark a turning point for its CEO," 5 Dec. 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

16 Jan 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 \

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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