Definition of documentary in English:

documentary

adjective

  • 1Consisting of or based on official documents.

    ‘documentary evidence of regular payments from the company’
    • ‘So although this theory is often repeated, the documentary sources do not support it.’
    • ‘However, these customers would also have to provide documentary proof of their claims.’
    • ‘That was despite MI5 agents eventually providing documentary evidence to prove the men had been in Britain.’
    • ‘Most of our understanding of the Black Death has come from documentary sources.’
    • ‘This will serve as documentary evidence in case of any problems later.’
    • ‘The discussion so far has been mainly based upon literary and documentary evidence.’
    • ‘Why is the earliest documentary evidence from 1964, when most people remember ska from earlier than that?’
    • ‘We had told Mr Blunkett's officials about our irrefutable documentary evidence before he wrote his article.’
    • ‘Your Honour, rare is the case that is tried where the documentary record is pristine and intact.’
    • ‘In fact, the documentary record is always depressingly full of fragments and gaps.’
    • ‘These photos gave me a documentary record that I could draw upon later during the writing.’
    • ‘Both have continued in their claims to have Welsh antecedents despite further new documentary evidence to the contrary.’
    • ‘Surviving manuscripts have been preserved by chance, so there will always be lacunae in the documentary record.’
    • ‘His published record was the first documentary evidence in Europe of the existence of the New World.’
    • ‘It's not a documentary analysis of how the far right organises itself.’
    • ‘Everything was drawn from primary research with living survivors and from documentary eyewitness accounts.’
    • ‘The tribunal also had regard to some 3,000 pages of documentary material provided by the parties.’
    • ‘The question of credibility raises the issue of whether the documentary source is biased.’
    • ‘The downside of the online boom is the worry that historians will lose a documentary record.’
    • ‘Instead one has to go back to the language of the clause in its documentary and factual context and try to see what it means.’
    recorded, documented, registered, written, chronicled, archived, archive, on record, in writing, on paper
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  • 2Using pictures or interviews with people involved in real events to provide a factual report on a particular subject.

    ‘a documentary programme about Manchester United’
    • ‘She made her case to her editors, who agreed to provide a forum for her documentary work.’
    • ‘The film is a mixture of real documentary footage and recreation.’
    • ‘There is also a four minute documentary featurette on the making of the music video.’
    • ‘Loach also commented that the use of documentary elements reflected the programme's scheduling.’
    • ‘This documentary film provides a unique insight into the life of Collins.’
    • ‘However, I must say that my favourite discoveries were in the short and documentary sections.’
    • ‘He belonged to the generation of broadcasters who saw documentary reporting as the highest possible calling.’
    • ‘Scotland has a long history of producing one-off history and documentary programmes.’
    • ‘This in turn fuelled an interest in documentary photography and reportage.’
    • ‘Shot in documentary style throughout the day and night, the images are raw and real to illustrate the work behind the headlines.’
    • ‘Each year, the trust acknowledges the best documentary film-making from Britain and abroad.’
    • ‘The success of the documentary style fooled many into forgetting that they were watching works of fiction.’
    • ‘The ground-breaking documentary series takes viewers to Planet Earth millions of years into the future.’
    • ‘Regular items included comic interviews with people in the street and a mock documentary slot.’
    • ‘The documentary tradition has long been engaged with the real world, often explicitly in order to change it.’
    • ‘He ran a laundry service with a friend, became a journalist and radio presenter and then a documentary filmmaker.’
    • ‘On the last day, the subjects went to a law school where they saw a documentary re-enactment of a real rape trial.’
    • ‘The film follows the documentary filmmaker on her quest to probe the very soul of the modern politician.’
    • ‘I'm glad the film ended up as a documentary type film with interviews intercut with reconstructions of the fateful climb.’
    • ‘They are the subject of a new fly-on-the-wall documentary series, starting tonight.’
    factual, non-fictional, real-life, true to life, fact-based
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noun

  • A film or television or radio programme that provides a factual report on a particular subject.

    • ‘The inspiration for the film came from two documentaries he watched on Korean TV.’
    • ‘Equally, cinema documentaries may have to be edited down for television.’
    • ‘She also had a subsequent solo career, and then moved into television to make documentaries.’
    • ‘There are many books, films and documentaries on the subject of widows in India.’
    • ‘In the last month he has been the subject of two television documentaries.’
    • ‘Television documentaries have used interviews with academics in two ways.’
    • ‘My main point is that we are not all as we are portrayed in numerous documentaries and programmes.’
    • ‘The channel would show war documentaries, military reports and a variety of films.’
    • ‘I've lost count of how many special election reports and documentaries there have been.’
    • ‘Sadly we don't get such shows here… now its all war related specials and documentaries.’
    • ‘It has been acknowledged as one of the most widely watched television documentaries of all time.’
    • ‘Is it the role of television documentaries to change government policy?’
    • ‘The programme features five documentaries shot in the immediate wake of the terrorist attacks.’
    • ‘Over the past decade we have seen a number of documentaries on Chaplin's film art.’
    • ‘What do you think it is that sets your films apart from other documentaries that don't manage to make money?’
    • ‘I spend Friday night at home in front of the television, watching bad documentaries.’
    • ‘His exploits are to be screened on two television documentaries about the sport.’
    • ‘They want a balanced diet of variety, costume dramas and documentaries.’
    • ‘He has written and directed scores of films and television series and documentaries.’
    • ‘Reporters sought her out for interviews and several documentaries were filmed.’
    factual programme, factual film
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Origin

Early 19th century: from document + -ary.

Pronunciation

documentary

/dɒkjʊˈmɛnt(ə)ri/