biography

noun
bi·​og·​ra·​phy | \bī-ˈä-grə-fē also bē- \
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

Lamont acknowledged his biography is worlds away from that of the typical working person. Daniela Altimari, courant.com, "Ned Lamont Emerges As Labor Favorite," 6 Apr. 2018 His biography becomes a second core to Sacred Games, competing with the crime mystery itself. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Sacred Games Reinvents the Police Procedural," 12 July 2018 Former Republican senator Rick Santorum, a Hardiman ally, pitched his blue-collar biography to friends at the White House. Author: Ashley Parker, Robert Costa, Anchorage Daily News, "‘All a little misdirection’: Inside Trump’s sometimes-wavering decision to nominate Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 Former Republican senator Rick Santorum, a Hardiman ally, pitched his blue-collar biography to friends at the White House. Ashley Parker And Robert Costa, chicagotribune.com, "Inside Trump's sometimes wavering decision on Brett Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 An avid runner, Kavanaugh lists his two Boston Marathon finishes on his court website biography: 3:59:45 in 2010 and 4:08:36 in 2015. Mark Sherman, BostonGlobe.com, "Born inside the Beltway, Brett Kavanaugh is part of the GOP legal elite," 10 July 2018 An avid runner, Kavanaugh lists his two Boston Marathon finishes on his court website biography: 3:59:45 in 2010 and 4:08:36 in 2015. Mark Sherman, The Seattle Times, "High-court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is D.C. native, ex-Bush aide," 9 July 2018 What exactly prompted Weldon to travel to see Sitting Bull is unknown, but her biography provides several clues. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "The True Story Behind Woman Walks Ahead," 29 June 2018 Weisheyer, President of Dream Builders Realty, is a graduate of the district, his school district biography said. Ryan Gillespie, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Osceola board member voted President-elect of Florida School Boards Association," 14 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

10 Nov 2018

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 \
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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