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See also: Apocryphal



From apocrypha +‎ -al.


  • (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /əˈpɒkɹɪfəl/, /əˈpɒkɹəfəl/
  • (US) IPA(key): /əˈpɑːkɹɪfəl/, /əˈpɑːkɹəfəl/
  • (file)


apocryphal (comparative more apocryphal, superlative most apocryphal)

  1. (Christianity) Of, or pertaining to, the Apocrypha.
  2. (by extension) Of doubtful authenticity, or lacking authority; not regarded as canonical. [from 1590s]
    Synonyms: allonymous, spurious
    Antonym: canonical
    Many scholars consider the stories of the monk Teilo to be apocryphal.
    • 1981, William Irwin Thompson, The Time Falling Bodies Take to Light:Mythology, Sexuality and the Origins of Culture, page 11:
      The structural anthropologist urges us to ignore the orthodox who labor so patiently trying to eliminate the apocryphal variants from the one true text.
  3. (by extension) Of dubious veracity; of questionable accuracy or truthfulness; anecdotal or in the nature of an urban legend.
    Synonym: anecdotal
    There is an apocryphal tale of a little boy plugging the dike with his finger.
    • 1749, [John Cleland], “[Letter the First]”, in Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure [Fanny Hill], volume I, London: [] G. Fenton [i.e., Fenton and Ralph Griffiths] [], →OCLC:
      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.
    • 1848, Geoffrey Crayon [pseudonym; Washington Irving], “London Antiques”, in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent., New York, N.Y.: [] C. S. Van Winkle, [], →OCLC:
      I confess I was a little dubious at first whether it was not one of those apocryphal tales often passed off upon inquiring travellers like myself, and which have brought our general character for veracity into such unmerited reproach.
    • 1886 January 5, Robert Louis Stevenson, “Story of the Door”, in Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, London: Longmans, Green, and Co., →OCLC:
      I took the liberty of pointing out to my gentleman that the whole business looked apocryphal, and that a man does not, in real life, walk into a cellar door at four in the morning and come out with another man’s cheque for close upon a hundred pounds.

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