foot·​note | \ ˈfu̇t-ˌnōt How to pronounce footnote (audio) \

Definition of footnote

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a note of reference, explanation, or comment usually placed below the text on a printed page
2a : one that is a relatively subordinate or minor part (as of an event, work, or field) a movement now regarded as a footnote to architectural history


footnoted; footnoting; footnotes

Definition of footnote (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to furnish with a footnote : annotate

Examples of footnote in a Sentence


a movement now regarded as a footnote to history

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The uprising shifted politics: police shootings went from footnotes to front-page stories, with outlets tracking just how disproportionately black, brown and indigenous the victims are. Brittany Packnett, Time, "How Ferguson Woke Us Up," 8 Aug. 2019 What struck me most, however, was a memoir by the essayist Emmanuel Berl, one of Mandel’s closest friends, that was a best-seller after the war but has long since faded into historians’ footnotes. James Mcauley, Town & Country, "The Haunting of Paris: Georges Mandel and the Long Legacy of Nazi Violence," 6 Aug. 2019 In the report Mr Haradinaj is mentioned only in a footnote but Hashim Thaci, Kosovo’s president, is prominent. The Economist, "Kosovo’s prime minister faces war-crimes allegations," 25 July 2019 The legal settlement adds a grim footnote to the inspiring story of Mr. Armstrong, who avoided the limelight and never cashed in on his fame. Scott Shane, New York Times, "Neil Armstrong’s Death, and a Stormy, Secret $6 Million Settlement," 23 July 2019 Philadelphia's Jimmie Wilson, who started as catcher for the National League, earned his footnote to history several years later. Marc Bona,, "1935: Cleveland hosts the 3rd All-Star Game - colorful characters, moments," 1 July 2019 Here, reducing the medieval bestiary to a contemporary footnote makes for a listless conclusion to an otherwise strong and compelling show. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Unicorns are just one of the wild rides in the Getty’s marvelous ‘Book of Beasts’," 23 July 2019 My failure was partly due to format: a 1,300+ page paperback of long sentences in tiny type with footnotes. Jim Higgins, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How to read 35, 50 or 100 books a year: Give up on the boring ones," 18 July 2019 Roberts addressed her criticisms in a footnote in the majority opinion. Ephrat Livni, Quartz, "The US Supreme Court says partisan gerrymandering is not its problem," 27 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Those who bothered to read all four hundred and forty-eight pages discovered a gripping document, painstakingly footnoted and verified. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, "“Accountability”? The Mueller Hearing Is How Trump Escapes It," 24 July 2019 Given that data analytics have changed under the new standard, investors need to look beyond financial statement footnotes to grasp the proper disclosures, Ms. Peters said. Mark Maurer, WSJ, "New Lease Accounting Standard May Mislead Investors, Credit Suisse Says," 10 July 2019 Lately, the sweep of reductive history has elevated Arturo Toscanini, Leonard Bernstein and Herbert von Karajan to almost mythic status, leaving the other great conductors of the 20th century as footnotes that only specialist collectors care about. Allan Kozinn, WSJ, "‘George Szell: The Complete Columbia Album Collection’ Review: A Maestro’s Time in Cleveland Still Shines," 22 Aug. 2018 Two European novelists, Ronald Firbank and Louis-Ferdinand Céline, are footnoted, with their birth and death years, their vocations, and the statement that New Directions published them in the United States. Ethan Mordden, WSJ, "‘The Luck of Friendship’ Review: Dear Playwright, Dear Publisher," 9 Mar. 2018 So there is our celebration, much of it biblically inspired, even if not always footnoted. Rick Hamlin And Bloomberg, charlotteobserver, "Where we get gifts, and lights, and angels for Christmas | Charlotte Observer," 22 Dec. 2017 This point alone should be a lodestar of the hearings: Elections matter for the court, even if most of what the court does is obfuscated and footnoted. Neil S. Siegel, Slate Magazine, "The Democrats Can’t Block Gorsuch," 1 Feb. 2017 Based mainly on secondary sources, but thoroughly footnoted, Crawford’s book proceeds from curiosity to curiosity, often jumping back and forth between recent history and the distant past. The Washington Post, The Denver Post, "“Fallen Glory” surveys the world’s lost wonders and lesser structures," 20 Apr. 2017 Indeed, perhaps the only true consensus in the Trinity Lutheran decision is that its fragile and heavily footnoted majority will be tested soon. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "Travel ban, playground case bring a big finish to sleepy Supreme Court term," 26 June 2017

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


1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1864, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for footnote

Last Updated

13 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for footnote

The first known use of footnote was in 1711

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More Definitions for footnote



English Language Learners Definition of footnote

: a note with added information that is placed below the text on a printed page
: someone or something that is remembered or regarded as a minor or unimportant part of an event, work, etc.


foot·​note | \ ˈfu̇t-ˌnōt How to pronounce footnote (audio) \

Kids Definition of footnote

: a note at the bottom of a page

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More from Merriam-Webster on footnote

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with footnote

Spanish Central: Translation of footnote

Nglish: Translation of footnote for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of footnote for Arabic Speakers

Comments on footnote

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a wrong name or inappropriate designation

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