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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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

With the usual flow of economic data constricted by the partial government shutdown, the anecdotes compiled in the beige book will be carefully scrutinized by investors and Fed officials looking for signs of slowing growth. Sarah Chaney, WSJ, "Fed’s Beige Book Shows Concerns Mounting Among U.S. Businesses," 16 Jan. 2019 Kaling told a self-deprecating anecdote about how never being perceived as conventionally attractive by men actually made asking for things easier. Glamour, "Mindy Kaling: A Lot of People Have a Problem Being Around Women Who Don't Hate Themselves," 11 Nov. 2018 But remember, anecdotes can easily be embellished or falsified. Abby Langer, SELF, "Most Diets Don't Work, But If a Diet Promises These 4 Things, Run Away," 5 Jan. 2019 Time Before this illuminating anecdote sparks any out-of-control rumors, let the record state that the IRL Lara Jean and Peter, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, are just friends. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "The Story Behind the "To All the Boys I've Loved Before" Photo of Lara Jean and Peter Napping," 24 Aug. 2018 But in the final half hour Mooney unhelpfully widens her focus, chasing numerous self-referential ideas down conceptual dead ends and indulging in scattershot anecdote assemblage rather than meaningful resolution of her tantalizing material. Justin Hayford, Chicago Reader, "A playwright’s attack on her own character amounts to Empty Threats," 21 June 2018 The imbalance has spawned some interesting anecdotes among employers, with some apparently warming up to the idea of hiring less experienced workers or ex-convicts— groups that are often among overlooked. Lucinda Shen, Fortune, "Discover to Offer Full-Ride Online Bachelor's Degrees," 12 June 2018 But his approach to many of the topics included hilarious yet sweet anecdotes that tied back into his upbringing in South Africa and his interracial family. Mariecar Mendoza, San Francisco Chronicle, "Trevor Noah mixes social commentary, charm in Clusterfest set," 2 June 2018 One weird anecdote that jumped out to me was this story about Ivana Trump, whom Donald married in 1977. Sean Illing, Vox, "Trump’s ties to the Russian mafia go back 3 decades," 8 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

13 Mar 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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