biography

noun
bi·​og·​ra·​phy | \ bī-ˈä-grə-fē also bē- How to pronounce biography (audio) \
plural biographies

Definition of biography

1 : a usually written history of a person's life a new biography of Abraham Lincoln
2 : biographical writings as a whole the genre of biography
3 : an account of the life of something (such as an animal, a coin, or a building) the biography of the commonwealth

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Synonyms for biography

Synonyms

bio, life, memoir

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So You've Been Asked to Submit a Biography

In a library, the word biography refers both to a kind of book and to a section where books of that kind are found. Each biography tells the story of a real person's life. A biography may be about someone who lived long ago, recently, or even someone who is still living, though in the last case it must necessarily be incomplete. The term autobiography refers to a biography written by the person it's about. Autobiographies are of course also necessarily incomplete.

Sometimes biographies are significantly shorter than a book—something anyone who's been asked to submit a biography for, say, a conference or a community newsletter will be glad to know. Often the word in these contexts is shortened to bio, a term that can be both a synonym of biography and a term for what is actually a biographical sketch: a brief description of a person's life. These kinds of biographies—bios—vary, but many times they are only a few sentences long. Looking at bios that have been used in the same context can be a useful guide in determining what to put in your own.

Examples of biography in a Sentence

a new biography of Abraham Lincoln an unauthorized biography of the actor gave him some serious headaches

Recent Examples on the Web

Each display has a plaque that includes the artist’s biography, photo and QR code. Mary Divine, Twin Cities, "TV designer Kelli Kaufer opens Stillwater store featuring Minnesota artisans," 3 July 2019 According to several past publications, including Shipton’s Nilsson biography, they were also backed by producer and onetime Beatles roadie Ed Freeman on bass guitar and the saxophonist Bobby Keys. David Gambacorta, Longreads, "Took You By Surprise: John and Paul’s Lost Reunion," 25 June 2019 Alongside Stalingrad, a new biography, Vasily Grossman and the Soviet Century, by Alexandra Popoff, charts Grossman’s life as a journey from moral compromise to the truth of Life and Fate. Aaron Lake Smith, Harper's magazine, "The Trials of Vasily Grossman," 24 June 2019 While some candidates concentrated on biography, others -- including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders -- leaned heavily on their policy proposals. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Democratic candidates pitch South Carolina voters at fish fry," 22 June 2019 In Seymour Hersh: Scoop Artist (2013), his comprehensive, largely admiring biography, the journalism professor Robert Miraldi suggested that Hersh developed some bad habits in Chicago. Scott Sherman, The New York Review of Books, "A Muckraker’s Progress," 17 June 2019 The public’s fascination with him rivals its interest in Chanel herself, who was the subject of numerous biographies, plays, and films both recent and vintage; Katharine Hepburn played her on Broadway in the 1970 musical Coco. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "Legendary Designer Karl Lagerfeld Has Died," 19 Feb. 2019 Traditional favorites like Faulkner and Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings were balanced by biographies and stories about the wild west. Leslie Anne Tarabella, al.com, "Fannie Flagg for Father’s Day," 13 June 2019 Every Saturday and Sunday, book vendors display new and used novels, art books, rare biographies, and other treasures at this outdoor market. Melissa Kravitz, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Things to Do in Dublin For Everyone," 19 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'biography.' 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 biography

1665, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for biography

Late Greek biographia, from Greek bi- + -graphia -graphy

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Statistics for biography

Last Updated

7 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for biography

The first known use of biography was in 1665

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More Definitions for biography

biography

noun

English Language Learners Definition of biography

: the story of a real person's life written by someone other than that person

biography

noun
bi·​og·​ra·​phy | \ bī-ˈä-grə-fē How to pronounce biography (audio) \
plural biographies

Kids Definition of biography

: a usually written account of a real person's life

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Comments on biography

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