[dok-yuh-men-tuh-ree, -tree]
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  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. 2018

Related Words for documentary

broadcast, feature, film, narrative, information, account, docudrama

Examples from the Web for documentary

Contemporary Examples of documentary

Historical Examples of documentary

British Dictionary definitions for documentary


  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 documentary

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