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Late 17th c., from French anecdote, from Ancient Greek ἀνέκδοτος (anékdotosaccounts unpublished), from ἀν- (an-not, un-) + ἔκδοτος (ékdotospublished), from ἐκδίδωμι (ekdídōmiI publish), from ἐκ- (ek-out) + δίδωμι (dídōmiI give).

Virtually identical cognates in other European languages – French anecdoteGerman AnekdoteSpanish anécdota, among others.

Alternative forms

  • anecdota (only attested in the plural (anecdotae), probably non-standard)
  • anecdoton (Grecian)
  • anecdotum (rare, Latinate)


  • (General American) IPA(key)/ˈæ.nɪk.doʊt/


anecdote (plural anecdotes)

  1. A short account of a real incident or person, often humorous or interesting.
  2. An account that supports an argument, but which is not supported by scientific or statistical analysis.
  3. A previously untold secret account of an incident.


anecdote (third-person singular simple present anecdotespresent participle anecdotingsimple past and past participle anecdoted)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To tell anecdotes (about).
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