The word anecdote, phonetically pronounced an.ik.doht, means a short verbal accounting of a funny, amusing, interesting event or incident. The story is usually a reminiscence from the teller’s life but at best is a related story of fact, as opposed to a contrived work of fiction. The origin of the word anecdote comes from the Greek Byzantine period, A.D. 527 to 565 during the reign of emperor Justinian.

In his court, Justinian had a historian named Procopius who was a gifted writer who wrote many witty, amusing and somewhat bawdy accounts of court life. Never intending for this stories to become public he entitled his writings as “Anecdota” which was Greek for unpublished and kept secret. After his secret writings did indeed become public and published, the term anecdote became commonly used for similar accounts.

Amusing anecdotes many times find their way into wedding receptions, family reunions and any other gathering of people who know each other well. Teachers and educators often tell classrooms of pupils anecdotes about famous people. The anecdotes are not always flattering, but are usually revealing of character and invariably amusing. Here is an example of an anecdote about Winston Churchill:

Winston Churchill was very fond of his pet dog Rufus. He ate in the dining room with the family on a special cloth and was treated with utmost respect. When enjoying movies, Rufus had the best seat in the house; on Winston Churchill’s lap. While watching “Oliver Twist,” Churchill put his hands over Rufus’ eyes during the scene where Bill Sike’s intends to drown his dog. Churchill is believed to have said to Rufus: “don’t look now, dear. I’ll tell you about it later.”

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