[dok-yuh-men-tuh-ree, -tree]
  1. Also doc·u·men·tal [dok-yuh-men-tl] /ˌdɒk yəˈmɛn tl/. pertaining to, consisting of, or derived from documents: a documentary history of France.
  2. Movies, Television. based on or re-creating an actual event, era, life story, etc., that purports to be factually accurate and contains no fictional elements: a documentary life of Gandhi.
noun, plural doc·u·men·ta·ries.
  1. Movies, Television. a documentary film, radio or television program, etc.

Origin of documentary

First recorded in 1795–1805; document + -ary
Related formsdoc·u·men·tar·i·ly, adverbnon·doc·u·men·tal, adjectivenon·doc·u·men·ta·ry, adjective, noun, plural non·doc·u·men·ta·ries.pre·doc·u·men·ta·ry, adjectivesem·i·doc·u·men·ta·ry, adjective, noun, plural sem·i·doc·u·men·ta·ries.un·doc·u·men·ta·ry, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for documental

Historical Examples of documental

British Dictionary definitions for documental


  1. Also: documental consisting of, derived from, or relating to documents
  2. presenting factual material with little or no fictional additionsthe book gives a documentary account of the war
noun plural -ries
  1. a factual film or television programme about an event, person, etc, presenting the facts with little or no fiction
Derived Formsdocumentarily, 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 documental



c.1810, "pertaining to documents," from document + -ary. Meaning "factual, meant to provide a record of something" is from 1926, from French film documentarie (1924). The noun (short for documentary film) is attested from 1935. Docudrama is a 1961 coinage.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper