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

Essential Meaning of biography

: the story of a real person's life written by someone other than that person a new biography of Abraham Lincoln

Full 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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for biography


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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 Sholom Aleichem wrote in a letter published in a later biography. Penny Schwartz,, 6 Oct. 2021 The royal's love of an old-fashioned cookout was explored in the biography, Queen of the World by Robert Hardman. Stephanie Petit,, 18 Aug. 2021 In the first biography of Barrett Browning since 1988, Sampson places the poet squarely in the midst of the political turbulence that roiled Victorian Britain. Washington Post, 17 Aug. 2021 Browning, who will head future Ford negotiations, once served as executive administrative assistant to Williams, the UAW said in a biography on Browning. al, 28 June 2021 Browning, who will head future Ford negotiations, once served as executive administrative assistant to Williams, the UAW said in a biography on Browning. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, 28 June 2021 In this excellent biography of Edgar Allan Poe, John Tresch is less interested in the scandals of Poe’s life than in his role in the scientific milieu. Monitor Reviewers, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 June 2021 In the biography, Bailey identifies her by the pseudonym Mona. New York Times, 4 June 2021 During her time in the Senate, Tallian has taken on issues including health care, labor issues, property tax reform and environmental protection, according to the biography. Alexandra Kukulka,, 30 Sep. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About biography

Time Traveler for biography

Time Traveler

The first known use of biography was in 1665

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near biography




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for biography

Last Updated

15 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Biography.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

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


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
True or False

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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