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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[French, from Greek anekdota, unpublished items : an-, not; see a-1 + ekdota, neuter pl.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[C17: from Medieval Latin anecdota unpublished items, from Greek anekdotos unpublished, from an- + ekdotos published, from ekdidonai, from ek- out + didonai to give]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 Late Greek, Greek anékdota things unpublished]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 ?
During one of the brief calls he made, he artfully led the conversation to music, and talked away about great singers whom he had seen, fine organs he had heard, and told such charming anecdotes that Beth found it impossible to stay in her distant corner, but crept nearer and nearer, as if fascinated.
Even for his classroom he had no platitudes, no stock of professorial anecdotes.
He talked to her while he undressed, telling her anecdotes and bits of news and gossip that he had gathered during the day.
He would delight them equally by his anecdotes of witchcraft, and of the direful omens and portentous sights and sounds in the air, which prevailed in the earlier times of Connecticut; and would frighten them woefully with speculations upon comets and shooting stars; and with the alarming fact that the world did absolutely turn round, and that they were half the time topsy-turvy!
He told them a good many humorous anecdotes, and always forgot the nub, but they were always able to furnish it, for these yarns were of a pretty early vintage, and they had had many a rejuvenating pull at them before.
Heathcliff having overheard the conversation, as well as I, smiled when he saw him go; but immediately afterwards cast a look of singular aversion on the flippant pair, who remained chattering in the door-way: the boy finding animation enough while discussing Hareton's faults and deficiencies, and relating anecdotes of his goings on; and the girl relishing his pert and spiteful sayings, without considering the ill-nature they evinced.
Kimble's experience when he walked the London hospitals thirty years back, together with striking professional anecdotes then gathered.
Here I discovered the roguery and ignorance of those who pretend to write anecdotes, or secret history; who send so many kings to their graves with a cup of poison; will repeat the discourse between a prince and chief minister, where no witness was by; unlock the thoughts and cabinets of ambassadors and secretaries of state; and have the perpetual misfortune to be mistaken.
He was thought witty, thanks to his foible for relating a quantity of anecdotes on the reign of Louis XV.
The Journalist tried to relieve the tension by telling anecdotes of Hettie Potter.
The old gentleman's draught acted as a solvent upon his memory, so that it overflowed with tales, traditions, anecdotes of famous dead people, and traits of ancient manners, some of which were childish as a nurse's lullaby, while others might have been worth the notice of the grave historian.
Of these gifted beings marvelous anecdotes are related, which are most potently believed by their fellow savages, and sometimes almost credited by the white hunters.