Definition of apocryphal in US English:



  • 1(of a story or statement) of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true.

    ‘an apocryphal story about a former president’
    • ‘Could his death have been the consequence of a greedy search for treasure, or is this yet another apocryphal story?’
    • ‘This story is surely apocryphal, but it does sound like an announcement with a story behind it!’
    • ‘More convincing than this thorough inspection of apocryphal statements and chronological details are the passages in which Bann teaches us how to see early photographic reproductions of art.’
    • ‘I have no idea whether or not the above story is true or apocryphal, but I'd like to believe it anyway.’
    • ‘According to an apocryphal legend, when the Titanic took its passengers to their watery graves, the P&J offered up the headline ‘Northeast man drowned at sea’.’
    • ‘The story is apocryphal, but is a good indication of the extreme measures countries take to protect the secret that they can read an enemy's secrets.’
    • ‘Those who have never worked in a restaurant believe that such stories are apocryphal.’
    • ‘Urban legends are apocryphal or wildly inaccurate stories that are passed on from person to person until they reach a point where they are accepted as truth.’
    • ‘Well his mother tells that now famous story about the Bible resting open on a stand in the middle of Bob Dylan's study, as an indispensable source for his music; is that apocryphal?’
    • ‘Other stories that sound apocryphal are unfortunately true.’
    • ‘Perhaps someday this apocryphal tale will become what it should be: an illustration of how easily even ‘experts’ can sometimes fall victim to the very same dangers they warn us about.’
    • ‘The apocryphal story of Robert Bruce watching the spider spin its web seven times, which restored his faith to battle the English once again, became a staple of inspirational lecturers.’
    • ‘Many baseball reporters claim the story is apocryphal, but others insist on its verity.’
    • ‘Whether this story is apocryphal or not, it accurately reflects the band's philosophy and perhaps predicts the directions their music would take.’
    • ‘It reminded me of the apocryphal tale of the Rolls Royce mechanics that appear halfway up a Swiss mountain to fix a faulty gearbox then refuse to charge the owner for the repairs because a Rolls Royce never breaks down.’
    • ‘The story - probably apocryphal - is that William Webb Ellis at Rugby School in the nineteenth century picked up the ball during a soccer match and ran with it, inventing rugby.’
    • ‘It may be an apocryphal story, but I was once told that cool-looking out-of-work actors and students were employed by publishers to read particular books on the London underground.’
    • ‘In much the same way that the - no doubt - apocryphal tale of the mum writing her son a note excusing him from gym the following week because ‘he will have flu’ always raises a titter.’
    • ‘All stories attributing the ending of slavery to Lincoln should be regarded as apocryphal, a mere creation of pro-Lincoln civil rights forces.’
    • ‘The story is probably apocryphal, since botanical evidence suggests that the coffee plant originated in the highlands of central Ethiopia.’
    fictitious, made-up, untrue, fabricated, false, spurious
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Of or belonging to the Apocrypha.
      ‘the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas’
      • ‘These include biblical, apocryphal, sectarian, and legal writings.’
      • ‘Rose refers to the apocryphal book, Wisdom of Solomon, as ‘scripture’.’
      • ‘Beyond Belief is about the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, written in the second century and much amended later, which Pagels prefers to the canonical Gospels, and especially to the Gospel of John.’
      • ‘The biblical canon originally understood wisdom as being in existence prior to the creation of the world, and the later writers of the apocryphal texts expanded wisdom to include the word and the law.’
      • ‘Even highly exalted men, like the authors of apocryphal books, Daniel, for instance, and Enoch, committed, to aid their cause, and without the shadow of a scruple, acts which we should call frauds.’
      • ‘What many may find to be the most helpful section of each chapter is where the author discusses the ‘Influence’ of each apocryphal book upon the authors of the New Testament.’
      • ‘He never quoted from the apocryphal books on a single occasion.’
      • ‘Some are even considered heretical, much like apocryphal books of the Bible.’
      • ‘None of this of course is in the New Testament, although once again some elements of these stories can be found in what we call the apocryphal New Testament, later Christian writings.’
      • ‘And finally, in the last extant part of the apocryphal Gospel of Mary, Mary is defended by the disciple Levi, presumably the son of Alphaeus.’
      • ‘In both the biblical book of Proverbs and the apocryphal book of Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom is personified and is said to participate in God's creative activity.’
      • ‘For example, what is the position of the apocryphal writings?’
      • ‘Many of the apocryphal gospels of the second and subsequent centuries are written in ‘worse’ Greek than Mark - that is, worse by the Attic standard.’
      • ‘Early Greek manuscripts of the Bible present a series of 14 canticles or ‘odes’ including the Gloria in excelsis and the apocryphal Prayer of Manasseh.’
      • ‘There being little or no biblical evidence for any of these claims, the programme focused on apocryphal writings - including a Gospel of Mary Magdalene which turned up in 1945.’
      • ‘The New Testament writers never quote from any of the apocryphal books.’
      • ‘The material in it on Jesus accords with various sources in the Christian popular apocryphal literature, but propounds a distinctive line about Jesus' significance.’
      • ‘The apocryphal gospels uniformly insisted that Joseph was an old widower who was not Mary's husband, but her ‘guardian.’’
      • ‘Many other apocryphal Jewish and Christian works were in circulation too, not just the famous Gnostic Gospels.’
      • ‘As I have noted elsewhere, as a literature specialist, I find a distinct difference in quality between the canonical and apocryphal books.’