From Late Latin apocryphus (“secret, not approved for public reading”), from Ancient Greek ἀπόκρυφος (apokryphos, “hidden, obscure”, thus “(books) of unknown authorship”), from ἀπό (apo, “from”) + κρύπτω (kruptō, “I hide”). Properly plural (the singular would be apocryphon), but commonly treated as a collective singular. “Apocryphal” meaning “of doubtful authenticity” is first attested in English in 1590.
- Of, or pertaining to, the Apocrypha.
- Of doubtful authenticity, or lacking authority; not regarded as canonical.
- Many scholars consider the stories of the monk Teilo to be apocryphal.
- Of dubious veracity; of questionable accuracy or truthfulness; anecdotal or in the nature of an urban legend.
- There is an apocryphal tale of a little boy plugging the dike with his finger.
- 1749, John Cleland, Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure Part 3
- Charles, already dispos'd by the evidence of his senses to think my pretences to virginity not entirely apocryphal, smothers me with kisses, begs me, in the name of love, to have a little patience, and that he will be as tender of hurting me as he would be of himself.