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1. A short account of an interesting or humorous incident.
2. pl. an·ec·dotes or an·ec·do·ta (-dō′tə) Secret or hitherto undivulged particulars of history or biography.

[French, from Greek anekdota, unpublished items : an-, not; see a-1 + ekdota, neuter pl. of ekdotos, published (from ekdidonai, ekdo-, to publish : ek-, out; see ecto- + didonai, to give; see dō- in Indo-European roots).]


a short usually amusing account of an incident, esp a personal or biographical one
[C17: from Medieval Latin anecdota unpublished items, from Greek anekdotos unpublished, from an- + ekdotos published, from ekdidonai, from ek- out + didonai to give]
ˌanecˈdotic adj
ˌanecˈdotalist, ˈanecˌdotist n


(ˈæn ɪkˌdoʊt)

a short account of an incident or event of an interesting or amusing nature, often biographical.
[1670–80; < New Latin anecdota or French anecdotes < Late Greek, Greek anékdota things unpublished]



chestnut An old, stale joke; a trite, oft-repeated tale or story. Although the exact origin of this term is unknown, one plausible explanation is that it comes from an old melodrama, The Broken Sword, by William Dillon. In the play, Captain Zavier is retelling, for the umpteenth time, a story having to do with a cork tree. His listener Pablo breaks in suddenly, correcting cork tree to chestnut tree, saying “I should know as well as you having heard you tell the tale these twenty-seven times.” The popularization of the term is attributed to the comedian William Warren, who had played the role of Pablo many times, and who is said to have repeated Pablo’s line about the chestnut in response to an unoriginal story told at a dinner party. The expression has been in use since 1883.

cock and bull story See NONSENSE.

fish story See EXAGGERATION.

Joe Miller A stale joke; a chestnut. In 1739 a man by the name of John Mot-tley put together a book of jests and called it Joe Miller’s Jest-Book, after the name of an illiterate comedian who lived 1684-1738. Current use of this name to describe an overused joke or saying implies that Mottley’s compilation was not very funny, and perhaps included jokes which were old even at that time.

Many of the anecdotes are mere Joe Millers. (Reminiscences of Scottish Life and Character, 1870)

megillah A long, detailed explanation or account; a lengthy, often exaggerated story; frequently in the phrase the whole megillah. Megillah is Hebrew for ‘roll, scroll’ and commonly refers to any or all of a certain five books of the Old Testament to be read on specified feast days. The extraordinary length and tediousness of these readings gave rise to the slang sense of the term as it is popularly used outside of Judaism today.

Feeding all the megillah to the papers about his family of Irish Polacks who came over with the Pilgrim Fathers. (Punch, May, 1968)

old wives’ tale See SUPERSTITION.

shaggy dog story An involved, often seemingly interminable story that derives its humor from its unexpected, absurd, or punning ending; any joke or story involving a talking animal, especially a dog. This expression describes the wryly humorous stories which feature a shaggy dog as the main character or as the speaker of a surprise punch line. Though most popular in the 1940s, shaggy dog stories are still recounted in certain contemporary circles.

song and dance See EXAGGERATION.

ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.anecdote - short account of an incident (especially a biographical one)anecdote - short account of an incident (especially a biographical one)
report, account - the act of informing by verbal report; "he heard reports that they were causing trouble"; "by all accounts they were a happy couple"


noun story, tale, sketch, short story, yarn, reminiscence, urban myth, urban legend He has a talent for recollection and anecdote.


An entertaining and often oral account of a real or fictitious occurrence:
Informal: tall tale, yarn.
حِكايَة، نِادِرَة، مُلحه
anekdótaatvikssagaatvikssaga; stutt frásögnstutt frásögn
anekdotasjuokingas nutikimas


[ˈænɪkdəʊt] Nanécdota f


[ˈænɪkdəʊt] nanecdote f


nAnekdote f


[ˈænɪkdəʊt] naneddoto


(ˈӕnikdout) noun
a short amusing story, especially a true one. He told us anecdotes about politicians that he knew.
References in classic literature ?
They were like the cherubs of the anecdote, who had-- morally, at any rate--nothing to whack
Clare are not without a parallel, as the following anecdote will show.
I had always responded to his efforts as well as I could, and felt a very deep and real kindness for him, too, for the reason that if by malice of fate he knew the one particular anecdote which I had heard oftenest and had most hated and most loathed all my life, he had at least spared it me.
It reminds a person of those dentists who secure your instant and breathless interest in a tooth by taking a grip on it with the forceps, and then stand there and drawl through a tedious anecdote before they give the dreaded jerk.
To illustrate the effect of slavery on the white man,--to show that he has no powers of endurance, in such a condition, superior to those of his black brother,--DANIEL O'CONNELL, the distinguished advocate of universal emancipation, and the mighti- est champion of prostrate but not conquered Ireland, relates the following anecdote in a speech delivered by him in the Conciliation Hall, Dublin, before the Loyal National Repeal Association, March 31, 1845.
As a magistrate, he had generally some point of law to consult John about, or, at least, some curious anecdote to give; and as a farmer, as keeping in hand the homefarm at Donwell, he had to tell what every field was to bear next year, and to give all such local information as could not fail of being interesting to a brother whose home it had equally been the longest part of his life, and whose attachments were strong.
Dean's anecdote of his first attempt at enlightening the darkness in which he had been reared, I observed, - 'But, Mrs.
On our little walk along the quays, he made himself the most interesting companion, telling me about the different ships that we passed by, their rig, tonnage, and nationality, explaining the work that was going forward--how one was discharging, another taking in cargo, and a third making ready for sea--and every now and then telling me some little anecdote of ships or seamen or repeating a nautical phrase till I had learned it perfectly.
1] I have the anecdote, which is quite authentic, from M.
Some sleight-of-hand trick or other,' said the Medical Man, and Filby tried to tell us about a conjurer he had seen at Burslem; but before he had finished his preface the Time Traveller came back, and Filby's anecdote collapsed.
They could describe an entertainment with accuracy, relate an anecdote with humour, and laugh at their acquaintance with spirit.
The occasion was rendered more interesting by the presence of a venerable personage, whose own actual reminiscences went back to the epoch of Gage and Howe, and even supplied him with a doubtful anecdote or two of Hutchinson.