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[uh-pok-ruh-fuh l]
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  1. of doubtful authorship or authenticity.
  2. Ecclesiastical.
    1. (initial capital letter)of or relating to the Apocrypha.
    2. of doubtful sanction; uncanonical.
  3. false; spurious: He told an apocryphal story about the sword, but the truth was later revealed.
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Origin of apocryphal

First recorded in 1580–90; apocryph(a) + -al1
Related formsa·poc·ry·phal·ly, adverba·poc·ry·phal·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for apocryphal


  1. of questionable authenticity
  2. (sometimes capital) of or like the Apocrypha
  3. untrue; counterfeit
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Derived Formsapocryphally, adverb
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 apocryphal


1580s, "of doubtful authenticity," from Apocrypha + -al (1). Middle English had apocrive (late 14c.) in same sense.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper