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

Synonyms for biography


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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 Barnett was an early driving force behind the ilani casino, according to his own biography and news coverage. oregonlive, 30 May 2022 In this engaging book, Michael Meyer skillfully weaves together a biography of Franklin and his heirs with the story of what happened to the money. Staff, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 May 2022 Among them were the authors of books in five categories — fiction, history, biography, poetry and general nonfiction. Dorany Pinedastaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 9 May 2022 Fusing biography and cultural criticism, this consideration of Whitney Houston is also a study of reputation. The New Yorker, 2 May 2022 Their daughter, Lindsay, followed in her parents’ footsteps into a career in international development, according to her corporate biography and a LinkedIn profile that appears to belong to her. Mike Damiano,, 29 Apr. 2022 While still in production, horror, thriller, romance, biography and drama films all saw declines in their budgets, according to a 2017 analysis by film data researcher Stephen Follows. Leah Asmelash, CNN, 26 Feb. 2022 On this week’s podcast, Anderson talks about his groundbreaking work on the Till biography and his church’s racial history. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 20 Jan. 2022 His work for the Review alone has encompassed everything from history and politics to biography and fiction. Matt Seaton, The New York Review of Books, 20 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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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Time Traveler for biography

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The first known use of biography was in 1665

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Statistics for biography

Last Updated

4 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Biography.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for biography


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

More from Merriam-Webster on biography

Nglish: Translation of biography for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of biography for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about biography


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