doc·​u·​men·​ta·​ry | \ ˌdä-kyə-ˈmen-tə-rē How to pronounce documentary (audio) , -ˈmen-trē, -kyü- \

Definition of documentary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : being or consisting of documents : contained or certified in writing documentary evidence
2 : of, relating to, or employing documentation (see documentation sense 2) in literature or art broadly : factual, objective a documentary film of the war


plural documentaries

Definition of documentary (Entry 2 of 2)

: a presentation (such as a film or novel) expressing or dealing with factual events : a documentary presentation

Keep scrolling for more

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from documentary


documentarily \ ˌdä-​kyə-​mən-​ˈter-​ə-​lē How to pronounce documentary (audio) , -​ˌmen-​ , -​kyü-​ \ adverb

Examples of documentary in a Sentence

Adjective You must present documentary proof of your residence. a documentary film about the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor Noun We watched a documentary on the early history of jazz.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The documentary series is now streaming in its entirety on Apple TV+, and for those who want to dig deeper, a companion podcast has also been released on Apple Podcasts which includes additional details that didn’t make it into the show. Amanda Kondolojy, Orlando Sentinel, 8 May 2022 The richest man in the world is the subject of a new documentary series commissioned by the BBC. K.j. Yossman, Variety, 5 May 2022 MSNBC Films has picked up The Tipping Point, a documentary series from Trevor Noah’s Day Zero Productions, TIME Studios, Sugar23 and P&G Studios. Etan Vlessing, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Apr. 2022 The documentary series tells the story of each iconic national park featured in the show — Kenya's Tsavo National Park, Indonesia's Gunung Leuser National Park, Chilean Patagonia, and more — through the habitat's animal residents. Kelli Bender,, 12 Apr. 2022 With more than 20 years of experience, Allison Vest, an anaplastologist (a professional who works with prosthetics), shares compelling and devastating cases involving the loss of some major body parts in this new documentary series. Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2022 Cops as good guys are a fixture of American pop culture, with an endless supply of broadcast-television dramas and documentary series about police busting criminals. Dominic Pino, National Review, 28 Mar. 2022 Jessica Beck, a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, was interviewed in the documentary series. New York Times, 25 Mar. 2022 Stanley Tucci is probably best known as an actor and sometimes director, but that changed with the debut of his documentary series, Searching for Italy. Leslie Kelly, Forbes, 25 Mar. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The documentary suggests the judge knew Cline and was incredibly sympathetic to him, but that remains unconfirmed. Aimée Lutkin, ELLE, 13 May 2022 Now there’s a lot of demand for reality, for factual and documentary and docu-dramas. Patrick Frater, Variety, 12 May 2022 The documentary explores Black culture in Baltimore, a city both enriched and complicated by diversity. John Coffren, Baltimore Sun, 12 May 2022 In addition to Cline, the documentary claims, there are 44 other doctors who have used their own sperm to impregnate their patients; they, too, were discovered through at-home DNA testing. Josh St. Clair, Men's Health, 12 May 2022 There was no such relief for Jacoba Ballard, the real-life woman at the center of Our Father, the deeply unsettling true-crime documentary dropping on Netflix today. Kristen Baldwin,, 11 May 2022 This dual reality lies at the core of Monlaü’s documentary. The New Yorker, 11 May 2022 Multi-Grammy award winning superstar Sheryl Crow stopped by Rolling Stone’s Twitch channel this past week to talk about her new documentary Sheryl and three new songs on it’s accompanying soundtrack. Jon Weigell, Rolling Stone, 11 May 2022 In the best music documentary category, 19-year-old sensation Olivia Rodrigo (driving home 2 u, a SOUR film) is competing with the greatest group of all time, The Beatles (The Beatles: Get Back). Paul Grein, Billboard, 11 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'documentary.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Keep scrolling for more

First Known Use of documentary


1802, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1935, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for documentary


see document entry 1


see document entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Buying Guide

Our Reviews team has selected the best streaming services.

Learn More About documentary

Time Traveler for documentary

Time Traveler

The first known use of documentary was in 1802

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near documentary



documentary bill

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for documentary

Last Updated

14 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Documentary.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for documentary


doc·​u·​men·​ta·​ry | \ ˌdä-kyə-ˈmen-tə-rē How to pronounce documentary (audio) , -ˈmen-trē \
plural documentaries

Kids Definition of documentary

: a film that tells the facts about something


doc·​u·​men·​ta·​ry | \ ˌdä-kyə-ˈmen-tə-rē How to pronounce documentary (audio) \

Legal Definition of documentary

: being, consisting of, or contained in documents documentary evidence

More from Merriam-Webster on documentary

Nglish: Translation of documentary for Spanish Speakers

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Name That Food

  • a-light
  • Name these cookies!
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!