noun (often used with a singular verb)
  1. (initial capital letter) a group of 14 books, not considered canonical, included in the Septuagint and the Vulgate as part of the Old Testament, but usually omitted from Protestant editions of the Bible.
  2. various religious writings of uncertain origin regarded by some as inspired, but rejected by most authorities.
  3. writings, statements, etc., of doubtful authorship or authenticity.Compare canon1(defs 6, 7, 9).

Origin of apocrypha

1350–1400; Middle English < Late Latin < Greek, neuter plural of apókryphos hidden, unknown, spurious, equivalent to apokryph- (base of apokrýptein to hide away; see apo-, crypt) + -os adj. suffix
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for apocrypha

Historical Examples of apocrypha

  • But these exact words, unfortunately, were only to be found in the Apocrypha.


    James Anthony Froude

  • The name never occurs in the Apocrypha or the New Testament.

  • Have you been working up the Apocrypha as I recommended you last time we met?'

    Robert Elsmere

    Mrs. Humphry Ward

  • But no, no; it ain't wisdom; it's apocrypha, as you say, sir.

    The Confidence-Man

    Herman Melville

  • These are only to be found in the Apocrypha, and in all of them the Elephant is described as an engine of war.

    Bible Animals;

    J. G. Wood

British Dictionary definitions for apocrypha


noun the Apocrypha (functioning as singular or plural)
  1. the 14 books included as an appendix to the Old Testament in the Septuagint and the Vulgate but not included in the Hebrew canon. They are not printed in Protestant versions of the Bible
  2. RC Church another name for the Pseudepigrapha

Word Origin for Apocrypha

C14: via Late Latin apocrypha (scripta) hidden (writings), from Greek, from apokruptein to hide away
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

Word Origin and History for apocrypha


late 14c., neuter plural of Late Latin apocryphus "secret, not approved for public reading," from Greek apokryphos "hidden; obscure," thus "(books) of unknown authorship" (especially those included in the Septuagint and Vulgate but not originally written in Hebrew and not counted as genuine by the Jews), from apo- "away" (see apo-) + kryptein "to hide" (see crypt). Properly plural (the single would be Apocryphon or apocryphum), but commonly treated as a collective singular.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

apocrypha in Culture



Religious writings that have been accepted as books of the Bible (see also Bible) by some groups but not by others. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, includes seven books, such as Judith, I and II Maccabees, and Ecclesiasticus, in the Old Testament that Jews (see also Jews) and Protestants do not consider part of the Bible. Some churches may read the Apocrypha for inspiration but not to establish religious doctrine.


By extension, an “apocryphal” story is one that is probably false but nevertheless has some value.
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.