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 Never intending for this stories to become public he entitled his writings as “Anecdota” which was Greek for unpublished and kept secret.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.”

11 thoughts on “Anecdote”

    1. Maybe not, cause the definition states that anecdote is “a short verbal accounting of a funny, amusing, interesting event or incident”

        1. the ‘or’ refers to event or incident. As in, it could be a funny event, or it could be a funny incident. Hope this helps.

  1. Perhaps anecdotal material tends to always contain an amusing element when we’re speaking literally (which is what you appear to be saying above), but not when we leak over into other disciplines.

    For example, when we’re speaking about “anecdotal evidence” when referring to one’s health or even a scientific experiment, “anecdotal records” or “anecdotal evidence” merely means there is not a strictly scientifically conducted accounting of gathered evidence supporting an hypothesis. “Anecdotal evidence,” in other words, is more “word-of-mouth” or something presented “in story form.” Your pediatrician might state on your child’s heath chart, for example, that you (the mother) presented anecdotal evidence indicating the child had a normal temperature the entire week before he turned into a vampire. (What’s funny about that?)

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