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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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

Preachers began to tell anecdotes about deceitful Jewish misers who consorted with the devil; artists began to visualize such tales in grotesque and frightening detail, endowing their Jewish villains with distinctively fleshy and bestial features. Sara Lipton, The New York Review of Books, "A Terribly Durable Myth," 17 June 2019 Tamera Mowry glows each morning on The Real, sharing personal anecdotes and giving her two cents on the latest news alongside her three unapologetic co-hosts/best friends. Selena Barrientos, Good Housekeeping, "'The Real' Star Tamera Mowry Reveals What's Actually Going on With the 'Sister, Sister' Reboot," 22 May 2019 During a recent town-hall meeting at the Mesa headquarters of Geco, a small defense contractor, Ms. McSally regales some 50 workers with an anecdote of her first encounter with Mr. Trump in the Oval Office. WSJ, "Arizona Republicans Brace for a Storm," 10 Aug. 2018 The New York Times story includes an anecdote about an expensive, controversial ad for Nike's VaporMax shoe for women. Jeff Manning, OregonLive.com, "Nike's challenges in #me-too era prompts big media attention," 28 Apr. 2018 View Sample Sign Up Now Holland then shared an anecdote about going to the gym to work out with Gyllenhaal in which both of their competitive tendencies came out to play during a treadmill race. Raisa Bruner, Time, "Stephen Colbert Presents the Proof That Jake Gyllenhaal Truly Adores Tom Holland," 25 June 2019 Rodriguez said the biggest challenge has been learning when to join into the conversation with Matt Vasgersian and Jessica Mendoza, along with still discovering when would be the proper time to interject an anecdote about a player or manager. Joe Reedy, chicagotribune.com, "Alex Rodriguez wants to be better in the ESPN baseball booth: ‘I think the flow between all of us is improving’," 24 June 2019 The following year, a Vanity Fair essay by Lady Gabriella's ex-boyfriend Aatish Taseer shared an anecdote about the Princess naming two black sheep Venus and Serena. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Who Is Lady Gabriella Windsor's Mother, Princess Michael of Kent," 17 May 2019 Show Your Sense of Humor People love a good laugh (and probably expect it), so tell a joke or sprinkle a funny anecdote or two into your speech. Country Living, "How to Write the Best Maid of Honor Speech," 16 May 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

17 Jul 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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