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a brief story relating an interesting or amusing event: His anecdote was very funny.
Not to be confused with:
antidote – a remedy for counteracting a poison or disease: She was given an antidote immediately.
Abused, Confused, & Misused Words by Mary Embree Copyright © 2007, 2013 by Mary Embree


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[French, from Greek anekdota, unpublished items : an-, not; see a-1 + ekdota, neuter pl.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).]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


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[C17: from Medieval Latin anecdota unpublished items, from Greek anekdotos unpublished, from an- + ekdotos published, from ekdidonai, from ek- out + didonai to give]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
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(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 Late Greek, Greek anékdota things unpublished]
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.



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.

Picturesque Expressions: A Thematic Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1980 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


noun story, tale, sketch, short story, yarn, reminiscence, urban myth, urban legend He has a talent for recollection and anecdote.
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


An entertaining and often oral account of a real or fictitious occurrence:
Informal: tall tale, yarn.
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
حِكايَة، نِادِرَة، مُلحه
anekdótaatvikssagaatvikssaga; stutt frásögnstutt frásögn
anekdotasjuokingas nutikimas


[ˈænɪkdəʊt] Nanécdota f
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈænɪkdəʊt] nanecdote f
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


nAnekdote f
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈænɪkdəʊt] naneddoto
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈӕnikdout) noun
a short amusing story, especially a true one. He told us anecdotes about politicians that he knew.
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
Stepan Arkadyevitch's anecdote too was very amusing.
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.
Lady Catherine was generally speaking-- stating the mistakes of the three others, or relating some anecdote of herself.
One day I gave, as a devoir, the trite little anecdote of Alfred tending cakes in the herdsman's hut, to be related with amplifications.
Let nobody laugh at the unique anecdote here related.
He was about to favour us with a little anecdote connected with it, when you entered.'
It was an anecdote, then current, to the effect that the Duc d'Enghien had gone secretly to Paris to visit Mademoiselle George; that at her house he came upon Bonaparte, who also enjoyed the famous actress' favors, and that in his presence Napoleon happened to fall into one of the fainting fits to which he was subject, and was thus at the duc's mercy.
From the first the mere anecdote, the mere statement I might say, that such a thing had happened on the high seas, appeared to me a sufficient subject for meditation.
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.
Meantime, too, some of the enterprising humorists of the country had helped themselves to such parts of the work as served their needs, and many of its definitions, anecdotes, phrases and so forth, had become more or less current in popular speech.
Anecdotes of the Crow Indians.- Notorious Horse Stealers.- Some Account of Rose.- A Desperado of the Frontier.
Even for his classroom he had no platitudes, no stock of professorial anecdotes. When he was tired, his lectures were clouded, obscure, elliptical; but when he was interested they were wonderful.