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 While the story of Frumentius may be apocryphal, other finds at the site underline how the spread of Christianity was intertwined with the machinations of commerce. Andrew Lawler, Smithsonian, "Church Unearthed in Ethiopia Rewrites the History of Christianity in Africa," 11 Dec. 2019 But in research reported today in Nature Ecology & Evolution, the borderline-apocryphal silver back chevrotain (or Vietnam mouse-deer) has been spotted in the wild. John Wenz, Popular Mechanics, "Missing for 30 Years, a Rare Deer Species Is Rediscovered in Vietnam," 11 Nov. 2019 Davis acknowledged that the story could be apocryphal; his source was the grandson of the man in question. Jennifer Ouellette, Wired, "Knives Made of Frozen Feces Are Kinda Crappy," 22 Sep. 2019 The salaries that make headlines in The Wall Street Journal are somewhere between rare and apocryphal. Paul Tough, The Atlantic, "The Myth of the Wealthy Welder," 13 Sep. 2019 Changing ideas about gravity In Newton’s view, all objects — from his not-so-apocryphal apple to planets and stars — exert a force that attracts other objects. NBC News, "Einstein showed Newton was wrong about gravity. Now scientists are coming for Einstein.," 3 Aug. 2019 Davis acknowledged that the story could be apocryphal; his source was the grandson of the man in question. Jennifer Ouellette, Wired, "Knives Made of Frozen Feces Are Kinda Crappy," 22 Sep. 2019 Artists, often taking their cues from apocryphal literature and legend, have remade Church history for centuries, perhaps no more strikingly than the sanitizing and humanizing of Jerome. Philip Kennicott, Washington Post, "In real life, Jerome was a combative intellectual. Artists made him lovable.," 18 Sep. 2019 Related: — Inside Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman fight — The Irishman reviews roundup — Joss Whedon, James Gunn react to Martin Scorsese criticizing Marvel movies *This romantic bit of apocryphal science is not, unfortunately, true. James Hibberd, EW.com, "Martin Scorsese: The Irishman interview," 24 Oct. 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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Time Traveler for apocryphal

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The first known use of apocryphal was in 1583

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Cite this Entry

“Apocryphal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/apocryphal. Accessed 9 Apr. 2020.

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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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