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See also: Apocryphal



From Late Latin apocryphus (secret, not approved for public reading), from Ancient Greek ἀπόκρυφος (apókruphos, hidden, obscure, thus “(books) of unknown authorship”), from ἀπό (apó, from) + κρύπτω (krúptō, 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.



apocryphal (comparative more apocryphal, superlative most apocryphal)

  1. Of, or pertaining to, the Apocrypha.
  2. Of doubtful authenticity, or lacking authority; not regarded as canonical.
    Many scholars consider the stories of the monk Teilo to be apocryphal.
  3. 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.


Related terms[edit]