adjective apoc·ry·phal \ə-ˈpä-krə-fəl\

Definition of apocryphal

  1. 1 :  of doubtful authenticity :  spurious an apocryphal story about George Washington

  2. 2 often capitalized :  of or resembling the Apocrypha Apocryphal books of the Old Testament


play \-fə-lē\ adverb



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Examples of apocryphal in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. an apocryphal story about the president's childhood

Recent Examples of apocryphal from the web

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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 verb apokryptein, meaning "to hide away," from "kryptein" ("to hide").

Origin and Etymology of apocryphal

see apocrypha

First Known Use: 1583

Synonym Discussion of 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

APOCRYPHAL Defined for English Language Learners


adjective apoc·ry·phal \ə-ˈpä-krə-fəl\

Definition of apocryphal for English Language Learners

  • : well-known but probably not true

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feeling or affected by lethargy

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