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

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Other Words from apocryphal

apocryphally \ ə-​ˈpä-​krə-​fə-​lē How to pronounce apocryphally (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
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Recent Examples on the Web Kevin Cullen The story is apocryphal, more allegory than history, but bears repeating in the wake of a federal jury convicting two aides to Mayor Marty Walsh of something the federal government has deemed a crime. Kevin Cullen, BostonGlobe.com, "The nice lady from Beacon Hill and the Southie housewife," 8 Aug. 2019 Davis acknowledged that the story could be apocryphal; his source was the grandson of the man in question. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Knives made of frozen feces don’t make the cut, disproving well-known legend," 16 Sep. 2019 As with any cultural icon, beneath the shining veneer must lie untold stories, apocryphal or otherwise. Yunte Huang, WSJ, "‘The Banished Immortal’ Review: ‘Heaven Begot a Talent Like Me’," 11 Jan. 2019 There are no such anecdotes, apocryphal or otherwise, about Piccioli. Mariano Vivanco; Fashion Editor: Miguel Enamorado, Harper's BAZAAR, "Valentino's Creative Director on Bringing His Poetic Vision to Fashion," 21 Aug. 2019 The cult of the Lost Cause embraced an apocryphal history suffused with nostalgia for a world of valorous Confederates, kindly masters, and contented slaves. Drew Gilpin Faust, The Atlantic, "Race, History, and Memories of a Virginia Girlhood," 18 July 2019 Betsy Ross is most commonly associated with the creation of the first United States flag -- though that story may be largely apocryphal. oregonlive.com, "The Betsy Ross flag: Has it become a symbol of hate?," 2 July 2019 The story of Judith and Holofernes is found among the apocryphal works of the Septuagint, the Greek translation of Hebrew Scripture, which formed the basis for the Old Testament. National Geographic, "Meet the Biblical heroine who beheaded a Babylonian to save her people," 22 Mar. 2019 The apocryphal utterance has come to represent the defiance of science in the face of religious, societal or governmental opposition. Alan Hirshfeld, WSJ, "‘The Workshop and the World’ Review: Science and Authority," 5 Apr. 2019

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.

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First Known Use of apocryphal

1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for apocryphal

apocrypha + -al entry 1

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Last Updated

27 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for apocryphal

The first known use of apocryphal was in 1583

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More Definitions for apocryphal


How to pronounce apocryphal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of apocryphal

: well-known but probably not true

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