Word: apocryphal

Pronunciation: ə-PAH-krə-fəl

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: of doubtful authenticity, although widely circulated as being true

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


And we’re back to the flashcards. I’m sure I’ve heard or read the word “apocryphal” elsewhere before, but when I think about it, the only place I can clearly remember seeing it is on a standardized test prep flashcard. Perhaps if I had made a note of it back then, I could have used it in some of my stories. It does, after all, have a lot to do with fiction.

An “apocryphal” story or statement is one that isn’t confirmed to be true, despite being widely considered as such. The word is the adjective form of the noun “apocrypha”, which means “writings or reports not considered genuine”. This noun is originally Latin and comes from the adjective apocryphus “secret writings”, which in turn is derived from the Greek adjective apókruphos, meaning “hidden” or “secret”.

I almost want to say that there was a time when I thought the word “apocryphal” had something to do with the Apocalypse. Despite the mistake, the relation to the Bible wasn’t such a wrong conclusion, since the Apocrypha refers to “biblical or related writings not forming part of the accepted canon of Scripture”. In its common sense, I suppose “apocryphal” could be a fancy way of referring to rumors, so if your characters like to gossip, this may be a good word to describe their unauthenticated stories! Good luck!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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