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


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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 English speakers originally used an anglicized version of the book's name for similar secret or unpublished histories or biographies, and by the 17th century, the meaning of anecdote had been broadened to cover any interesting or amusing personal tale.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 While anecdotes like Shah’s are common, there’s little data to show how often these transportation problems occur. NBC News, "Lost luggage: How lifesaving organs for transplant go missing in transit," 8 Feb. 2020 The American Society of Plastic Surgeons confirmed anecdotes like this are increasingly common from plastic surgeons across the country, but was unable to share any specific data around the trend at this time. Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN, "Plastic surgery inspired by filters and photo editing apps isn't going away," 8 Feb. 2020 The anecdote is Washington-esque in its I-chopped-down-the-cherry-tree tone of mythmaking. Elliot Ackerman, Washington Post, "Missions and mythmaking in the latest book from a former Navy SEAL," 6 Dec. 2019 Earlier The perfect anecdote to a bad loss is a really big win. Rana L. Cash, The Courier-Journal, "Kentucky football vs. Vanderbilt live: Wildcats run all over Commodores in 38-14 win," 16 Nov. 2019 The anecdotes in the book are as captivating as the maps. The Economist, "Charles Booth’s quest to fathom poverty in Victorian London," 5 Oct. 2019 Denworth steps up with a personal or animal anecdote illustrating the importance of friendship or the science behind it. WSJ, "‘Friendship’ Review: Let’s Get Together," 24 Jan. 2020 Mackenna says the group of hangers-on around the fighter come and go, but one source close to McGregor provided this anecdote for the Irish journalist's book, to show the growing extravagance surrounding the fighter. Ben Morse, CNN, "The life and times of Conor McGregor -- how social media changed UFC fighter," 17 Jan. 2020 Now revealing an embarrassing personal anecdote to a room of comedy writers is, on the survival instincts scale, right up there with rubbing yourself with salmon and lying down outside a cave full of hibernating bears. Lexy Perez, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Modern Family' Oral History Book Release Timed to Series Finale," 10 Jan. 2020

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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Time Traveler for anecdote

Time Traveler

The first known use of anecdote was circa 1721

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Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Anecdote.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for anecdote


How to pronounce anecdote (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of anecdote

: a short story about an interesting or funny event or occurrence


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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