apoc·​ry·​phal | \ ə-ˈpä-krə-fəl How to pronounce apocryphal (audio) \

Definition of apocryphal

1 : of doubtful authenticity : spurious an apocryphal story about George Washington
2 often capitalized : of or resembling the Apocrypha Apocryphal books of the Old Testament

Other Words from apocryphal

apocryphally \ ə-​ˈpä-​krə-​fə-​lē How to pronounce apocryphal (audio) \ adverb
apocryphalness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for apocryphal

fictitious, fabulous, legendary, mythical, apocryphal mean having the nature of something imagined or invented. fictitious implies fabrication and suggests artificiality or contrivance more than deliberate falsification or deception. fictitious characters fabulous stresses the marvelous or incredible character of something without necessarily implying impossibility or actual nonexistence. a land of fabulous riches legendary suggests the elaboration of invented details and distortion of historical facts produced by popular tradition. the legendary exploits of Davy Crockett mythical implies a purely fanciful explanation of facts or the creation of beings and events out of the imagination. mythical creatures apocryphal implies an unknown or dubious source or origin or may imply that the thing itself is dubious or inaccurate. a book that repeats many apocryphal stories

Did you know?

In Bible study, the term Apocrypha refers to sections of the Bible that are not sanctioned as belonging to certain official canons. In some Protestant versions, these sections appear between the Old and New Testaments. More generally, the word refers to writings or statements whose purported origin is in doubt. Consequently, the adjective apocryphal describes things like legends and anecdotes that are purported to be true by way of repeated tellings but that have never been proven or verified and, therefore, most likely are not factual. Both apocrypha and apocryphal derive, via Latin, from the Greek verbal adjective apokrýptein, meaning "to hide (from), keep hidden (from)," from krýptein ("to conceal, hide").

Examples of apocryphal in a Sentence

During these men's professional lives, Wall Street has become accustomed to getting what it wants from Washington. America's top bankers have an even longer history of not giving a hoot what the public thinks. Sample (possibly apocryphal) quote from the original J.P. Morgan: " I owe the public nothing." — Daniel Gross, Newsweek, 23 Feb. 2009 True or apocryphal, the story of the invention of the fried Ipswich clam—Mr. Woodman, faced with a huge vat of hot oil for his potato chips and a mess of clams harvested from the mud flats of his home town, reportedly had a eureka moment—is unabashed gospel for lovers of this regional specialty. — Nancy Harmon Jenkins, New York Times, 21 Aug. 2002 There is a story, perhaps apocryphal, about Leonard Bernstein and tax returns. On the line that asked him to list his profession, Bernstein didn't write "conductor" or "composer," or "pianist," or "teacher." He simply wrote, "musician." — Bari Walsh, Bostonia, Winter 2000-2001 an apocryphal story about the president's childhood
Recent Examples on the Web William Howard Taft, too often reduced to an apocryphal story of getting stuck in the White House bathtub, served as chief justice of the Supreme Court. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 12 Apr. 2022 One of the best apocryphal quips from the Cold War was attributed to Henry Kissinger. Jordan Michael Smith, The New Republic, 13 Apr. 2022 There's an apocryphal account of Milo of Croton who got stronger by buying a calf and carrying it on his back every single day, and as the cow got bigger, the weight would become more challenging for him. Philip Ellis, Men's Health, 18 Jan. 2022 Skimmed from the Internet, the quotes are often apocryphal — received wisdom that, depending on the listener, could be perceived as profound or straight from the greeting-card aisle. Washington Post, 19 Mar. 2022 Most accounts of this choker's provenance—and eventual fate—may be apocryphal but that hasn't tempered the myth of Anne Boleyn and her signature accessory. Leena Kim, Town & Country, 13 Mar. 2022 Even more than 150 years later, the apocryphal tale of a family cow kicking over a lantern in the barn on DeKoven Street has haunted several generations of O’Learys and made their name synonymous with the city’s destruction. Kori Rumore, chicagotribune.com, 10 Mar. 2022 This story is apocryphal: Sometime in the 20th century, a woman approached Pablo Picasso in a restaurant and asked him to sketch something. Angela Watercutter, Wired, 18 Feb. 2022 Historical bookstore famed for its architecture, sumptuous red staircase, limited-edition print runs of classics and a possibly apocryphal connection to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. Washington Post, 12 Feb. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'apocryphal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of apocryphal

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apocryphal

apocrypha + -al entry 1

Learn More About apocryphal

Time Traveler for apocryphal

Time Traveler

The first known use of apocryphal was in 1583

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About apocryphal

Dictionary Entries Near apocryphal




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for apocryphal

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Apocryphal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocryphal. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on apocryphal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for apocryphal

Nglish: Translation of apocryphal for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Color

  • a light greenish blue color
  • Name that color:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!