[ an-ik-doht-l ]
/ ˌæn ɪkˈdoʊt l /
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pertaining to, resembling, or containing anecdotes: an anecdotal history of jazz.
Fine Arts. (of the treatment of subject matter in representational art) pertaining to the relationship of figures or to the arrangement of elements in a scene so as to emphasize the story content of a subject.Compare narrative (def. 7).
based on personal observation, case study reports, or random investigations rather than systematic scientific evaluation: anecdotal evidence.
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Origin of anecdotal

First recorded in 1830–40; anecdote + -al1


an·ec·do·tal·ism, nounan·ec·do·tal·ly, adverbun·an·ec·do·tal, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does anecdotal mean?

Anecdotal describes something that is related to a short account of an incident from a particular perspective.

Something that is anecdotal is a story told through anecdotes. An anecdote is a short recounting of an event from someone’s point of view, normally in a pleasant or humorous manner. For example, anecdotal history is a historical account that is laid out through the perspectives of the people involved.

Anecdotal also describes something, such as research, that is based on personal observation and experience. Anecdotal evidence can be gathered by interviews, surveys, and other methods that allow people to share their experiences with the researcher.  In comparison, scientific evidence is gathered by comparing a dependent and independent variable in a controlled environment. Both types of evidence are important, but anecdotal evidence can’t prove something the way repeated testing and consistent results can.

Example: My science paper relied on anecdotal evidence instead of experimentation, so the teacher gave me a low grade.

Where does anecdotal come from?

The first records of the term anecdotal come from around 1830. It combines the word anecdote, meaning “a short account of an incident or event,” and the suffix al, meaning “of the kind of, pertaining to.”

You might also come across anecdotal in discussions about legal cases. In a legal context, something is considered anecdotal if it is based on a bias of any kind, involves uncorroborated circumstances, or is irrelevant to the topic being discussed. Oftentimes, personal accounts of experience with a plaintiff or defendant will be deleted from the record if they are anecdotal.

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What are some other forms related to anecdotal?

  • anecdotalism (noun)
  • anecdotally (adverb)
  • unanecdotal (adjective)

What are some synonyms for anecdotal?

What are some words that share a root or word element with anecdotal?

What are some words that often get used in discussing anecdotal?

What are some words anecdotal may be commonly confused with?

How is anecdotal used in real life?

Anecdotal is commonly used in recounting, history, and reports about events, often in the context of a short, fun story.


Try using anecdotal!

True or False?

Anecdotal evidence is based on a systematic, scientific evaluation.

How to use anecdotal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for anecdotal

/ (ˌænɛkˈdəʊtəl) /

containing or consisting exclusively of anecdotes rather than connected discourse or research conducted under controlled conditions
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012