From Late Latin apocryphus(secret, not approved for public reading), from Ancient Greek ἀπόκρυφος(apókruphos, hidden, obscure, thus “(books) of unknown authorship”), from ἀπό(apó, from) + κρύπτω(krúptō, I hide). Properly plural (the singular would be apocryphon), but commonly treated as a collective singular. “Apocryphal” meaning “of doubtful authenticity” is first attested in English in 1590.



apocryphal ‎(comparative more apocryphal, superlative most apocryphal)

  1. Of, or pertaining to, the Apocrypha.
  2. Of doubtful authenticity, or lacking authority; not regarded as canonical.
    Many scholars consider the stories of the monk Teilo to be apocryphal.
  3. Of dubious veracity; of questionable accuracy or truthfulness; anecdotal or in the nature of an urban legend.
    There is an apocryphal tale of a little boy plugging the dike with his finger.
    • 1749, John Cleland, Fanny Hill: Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure, Part 3
      Charles, already dispos'd by the evidence of his senses to think my pretences to virginity not entirely apocryphal, smothers me with kisses, begs me, in the name of love, to have a little patience, and that he will be as tender of hurting me as he would be of himself.


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