Definition of anecdote in English:



  • 1A short amusing or interesting story about a real incident or person.

    ‘he told anecdotes about his job’
    • ‘The playwright had to approach the struggle to subdue the tangle of confusing anecdote knowing what lesson he wanted it to teach and prepared to discard, distort, and invent in order to present his own version of the meaning of history.’
    • ‘Bennett's memoir is full of crucial technical insights into Broadway and Hollywood practice, but by way of instructive anecdote rather than structured discussion.’
    • ‘He had led an interesting life and was full of amusing stories and anecdotes, all of which he told with enthusiasm.’
    • ‘Relying on argument or anecdote for their appeal, these books included only a handful of indifferently reproduced black-and-white plates.’
    • ‘The book is full of short, interesting anecdotes which capture a moment in time.’
    • ‘I've made enough speeches to know that you're supposed to connect with the audience by telling a joke or a humorous anecdote or some amusing tale.’
    • ‘His witty introductions, funny stories and anecdotes kept the crowds smiling throughout.’
    • ‘The novel is packed with incident and anecdote and although mainly realist in style borrows some of the familiar techniques of Garcia Marquez's magic realism.’
    • ‘There is satire, particularly in the rather tedious Book II, but there is also all the wit, anecdote and engaging thought of good conversation.’
    • ‘It is a fascinating read, full of interesting information and funny anecdotes.’
    • ‘Though it is an amusing anecdote, this detail touches on a small but potentially crucial peculiarity in the current international emergency.’
    • ‘The appeal of Resnick's account is enhanced by the lure of Bohemia, which he and Passlof enrich with anecdote and intertwine with aesthetics and social history.’
    • ‘No funny stories, no amusing anecdotes just a proud Dad sending his baby off into the big wide world of further education.’
    • ‘This is staged documentary, its narrative gleaned from personal statements, in essence, a theatre of personal anecdote, performance art on an operatic scale.’
    • ‘Cultural differences are not just amusing anecdotes, but can have a real impact with real consequences.’
    • ‘The train journey from London to the North is described not just a train journey but as a repository of stories and anecdotes.’
    • ‘Full of personal anecdotes and hilarious stories, the exact running order of the show is likely to change on a nightly basis.’
    • ‘She suggests, more importantly, that public figures like Jonathan Clarke become more comprehensible when connected to domestic and personal memoir and anecdote.’
    • ‘It mingles facts and figures with anecdotes and stories in short sections which are listed alphabetically.’
    • ‘He was widely known for his warmth, generosity, and modesty, and for his fund of humorous and interesting anecdotes.’
    • ‘The story was based on an anecdote - a true incident that I had heard from Professor B. Buchshtab.’
    story, tale, narrative, sketch
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 An account regarded as unreliable or hearsay.
      mass noun ‘his wife's death has long been the subject of rumour and anecdote’
      • ‘Natural healthcare tools have included the use of foods, herbs and remedies derived from nature, and their use has evolved independently in diverse cultures using both anecdote and experimentation.’
      • ‘Hearsay, anecdote and tall tales says that it is possible, that this is just words until it happens to you.’
      • ‘The evidence that supports this theory is hearsay anecdotes going back thousands of years.’
      • ‘The distance between an amusing anecdote and thing that happened can be measured in kilometres.’
      • ‘There are areas within the report that we believe are based on untested and unreliable individual anecdotes.’
      • ‘On the Web site, in the e-mails of targeted professors, one finds a whole fuzzy world of impression and anecdote, of passionate conviction and hurt feelings.’
      • ‘If we could keep to addressing the issues rather than dealing in personalities and anecdote, we probably stand a better chance of not getting moved to the Conversation, literally or metaphorically.’
      • ‘3 The form or ‘factitiousness’ of the anecdote provides the shape and the subjectivity of the account.’
      • ‘There was no attempt to relate this experience to the architecture of the seven in any systematic way and Muthesius has to fall back on anecdote - to which I can add my penn'orth.’
      • ‘Some ‘off licence’ indications are substantiated by some evidence, but its efficacy in several other conditions is based on anecdote and observations made in small numbers of patients.’
      • ‘I think this anecdote provides a good example of the limitations confronting a contemporary labour historian who is trying to provide the most honest, accurate account possible.’
    2. 1.2mass noun The depiction of a minor narrative incident in a painting.
      ‘the use of inversions of hierarchy, anecdote, and paradox by Magritte, Dali, and others’
      • ‘In art, the lure of anecdote always presents serious risks, and a good deal of nineteenth century American art succumbed to that drive to explain and amuse.’
      • ‘He was a huge fan of Dutch art, stuffed with incident and anecdote.’
      • ‘His vision of the landscape was subjected to dreamy sentimentalism and romantic anecdote, rather than being acknowledged for its experimentalism and social content.’
      • ‘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’.