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

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 film has played leading documentary film festivals including DOC NYC, Big Sky, Seattle, Milwaukee and RiverRun. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 1 Aug. 2022 This groundbreaking documentary film chronicles the lives of William Gates and Arthur Agee, two Black teenagers from the inner-city trying to chase their dreams of playing in the NBA while being held back by their realities. Keith Nelson, Men's Health, 29 July 2022 The documentary film will air on August 13th on HBO and HBO MAX. Stephanie Petit,, 27 July 2022 Funding is needed to produce a documentary film to provide education at a national level. Roxanne De La Rosa, The Arizona Republic, 17 July 2022 Steib is currently running for the U.S. Senate and Cooper is featured in a documentary film titled CANS Can’t Stand, which follows a group of Black trans women in New Orleans who are fighting to repeal the discriminatory Crime Against Nature law. Cynthea Corfah, Essence, 15 July 2022 For decades now, journalists, authors, documentary film crews and others fascinated by the incident have unearthed and publicized countless bits of information and artifacts of that time. CBS News, 1 July 2022 Harry Edwards – sociologist, educator, professor emeritus at the University of California at Berkeley and documentary film producer – was also a confidant of Ashe’s. Stephanie Griffith, CNN, 24 June 2022 Passing is a short documentary film — running only about 23 minutes long — but even with limited time, delivers a poignant, moving profile of three trans men of color who recount their journeys since transitioning from female to male. Leah Campano, Seventeen, 22 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In addition, a short film previews an upcoming documentary by NBC Universal Boston on Boston Ballet’s Citydance program. Karen Campbell,, 3 Aug. 2022 The sheer number and variety of submissions highlights PhotoVogue’s mission of an inclusive and diverse space for all visual aesthetics, from realist to fantastic, from documentary-inspired to glam and dreamy. Vogue, 2 Aug. 2022 While Post Malone will embark on his Twelve Carat Toothache tour in Sept., the rapper will take fans behind the scenes of his pre-Covid Runaway Tour in an upcoming documentary. Daniel Kreps, Rolling Stone, 27 July 2022 Ukraine interactive experience and an upcoming documentary. Erika Kinetz, ajc, 25 July 2022 An hour-long documentary on the history of Concert of Colors, which premiered Wednesday night at the DIA, will air at 9 p.m. Monday on Detroit Public Television (WTVS-TV, Channel 56). Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, 22 July 2022 Shania Twain will be the focus on an upcoming documentary, Not Just A Girl, directed by Joss Crowley and produced by Mercury Studios. Jessica Nicholson, Billboard, 20 July 2022 This year marks the 10th anniversary of National Geographic's Sharkfest, and the NatGeo channel is marking the occasion with an intriguing new documentary exploring whether great white sharks can change their color to hunt more effectively. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 11 July 2022 The company’s collapse destroyed Holmes’s image as a groundbreaking innovator in Silicon Valley and has become the subject of a bestselling book, multiple podcasts, an HBO documentary and, most recently, a Hulu series starring Amanda Seyfried. Rachel Lerman, Washington Post, 7 July 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.

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

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The first known use of documentary was in 1802

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Last Updated

6 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

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

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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


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