Definition of anecdote in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈanəkˌdōt/


1A short and amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person: told anecdotes about his job he had a rich store of anecdotes
More example sentences
  • He had led an interesting life and was full of amusing stories and anecdotes, all of which he told with enthusiasm.
  • No funny stories, no amusing anecdotes just a proud Dad sending his baby off into the big wide world of further education.
  • It mingles facts and figures with anecdotes and stories in short sections which are listed alphabetically.
story, tale, narrative, incident;
urban myth/legend
informal yarn
1.1An account regarded as unreliable or hearsay: his wife’s death has long been the subject of rumor and anecdote
More example sentences
  • There are areas within the report that we believe are based on untested and unreliable individual anecdotes.
  • The evidence that supports this theory is hearsay anecdotes going back thousands of years.
  • 3 The form or ‘factitiousness’ of the anecdote provides the shape and the subjectivity of the account.
1.2The depiction of a minor narrative incident in a painting.
Example sentences
  • A pupil of Domenichino, he was most in sympathy with classical art, but he also appreciated the Baroque, and enriched his narratives with anecdote and vivid detail.
  • Burns's handmade tableaux - in style and use of narrative anecdote - are similar to the work of fellow Houstonian, Bill Davenport.
  • Now, however, we can appreciate the subtlety and unexpectedness of his framing, and the complex interplay he so often achieves between anecdote and form.


Late 17th century: from French, or via modern Latin from Greek anekdota 'things unpublished', from an- 'not' + ekdotos, from ekdidōnai 'publish'.

  • This is from Greek anekdota ‘things unpublished’. The word came to be used for any short story as a result of its use by Byzantine historian Procopius (c.500–c.562) for his Anekdota or ‘Unpublished Memoirs’ (also known as The Secret History) of the Emperor Justinian, which were tales of the private life of the court.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: an·ec·dote

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