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

Keep scrolling for more

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 verb apokryptein, meaning "to hide away," from "kryptein" ("to 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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web While it may not have been widely known among students and faculty at the prominent Jesuit boys school on a lush campus in Towson, an apocryphal story about its history survived for decades just under the surface. Liz Bowie, baltimoresun.com, "A persistent rumor about race forced Loyola Blakefield to dig into its history," 7 Dec. 2020 One wonders where the next great innovative business ecosystem will find its own apocryphal garages, basements, and dorm rooms in which to incubate the future. John Mackey, National Review, "How to Foster Innovation and Create Value," 2 Dec. 2020 Unlike the apocryphal messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens and then promptly died, Retera was just fine. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Porsche Taycan Sets Guinness Record for Longest Drift in an Electric Car," 23 Nov. 2020 According to the Center for Mark Twain Studies in New York that particular Twain quote is apocryphal. John Canzano, oregonlive, "Canzano: A quarterback, a Mark Twain quote, and the lifting of the human spirit," 20 Nov. 2020 One theory, possibly apocryphal and certainly much maligned by modern medicine, is that the physical characteristics of plants themselves provided clues as to how they might be used. Amanda Fortini, New York Times, "Revisiting an Ancient Theory of Herbalism," 12 Nov. 2020 The story of how the Mandarin came to be, now nearly apocryphal, goes like this: Chiang fronted a couple of acquaintances $10,000 on a restaurant lease. Los Angeles Times, "Cecilia Chiang, pioneer of Chinese cuisine, dies at 100," 2 Nov. 2020 Henry’s older brother, who died at age 15 in 1502, was even named Arthur in a nod to the apocryphal king. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "Why Henry VIII Orchestrated Every Detail of Anne Boleyn’s Execution," 26 Oct. 2020 Many of us have heard (sometimes apocryphal) stories about e-bike accidents, including one in which TV personality Simon Cowell fractured his back during his first ride on a new electric trail bike. Gretchen Reynolds, Star Tribune, "Does using an e-bike provide any exercise?," 25 Sep. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of apocryphal

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apocryphal

apocrypha + -al entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

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

Statistics for apocryphal

Cite this Entry

“Apocryphal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocryphal. Accessed 24 Feb. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for apocryphal



English Language Learners Definition of apocryphal

: well-known but probably not true

More from Merriam-Webster on apocryphal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for apocryphal

Nglish: Translation of apocryphal for Spanish Speakers

Comments on apocryphal

What made you want to look up apocryphal? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

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!