[16] Apocryphal is a ‘secondgeneration’ adjective; the original adjective form in English was apocrypha (‘The writing is apocrypha when the author thereof is unknown’, John de Trevisa 1387). This came, via ecclesiastical Latin, from Greek apókruphos ‘hidden’, a derivative of the compound verb apokrúptein ‘hide away’, which was formed from the prefix apo- ‘away, off’ and the verb krúptein ‘hide’ (source of English crypt and cryptic). It was applied as a noun to writings in general that were of unknown authorship, and in the 16th century came to be used specifically as the collective term for the uncanonical books of the Old Testament. It was perhaps confusion between the adjectival and nominal roles of apocrypha that led to the formation of the new adjective apocryphal towards the end of the 16th century. => CRYPT, CRYPTIC

The Hutchinson dictionary of word origins. 2013.


Look at other dictionaries:

  • Apocryphal — A*poc ry*phal, a. 1. Pertaining to the Apocrypha. [1913 Webster] 2. Not canonical. Hence: Of doubtful authority; equivocal; mythic; fictitious; spurious; false. [1913 Webster] The passages . . . are, however, in part from apocryphal or fictitious …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • apocryphal — ► ADJECTIVE 1) widely circulated but unlikely to be true: an apocryphal story. 2) of or belonging to the Apocrypha …   English terms dictionary

  • apocryphal — index assumed (feigned), disputable, fictitious, ill founded, spurious, untrue Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton …   Law dictionary

  • apocryphal — (adj.) 1580s, of doubtful authenticity, from APOCRYPHA (Cf. Apocrypha) + AL (Cf. al) (1). Middle English had apocrive (late 14c.) in same sense …   Etymology dictionary

  • apocryphal — mythical, *fictitious, legendary, fabulous Analogous words: questionable, dubious, *doubtful Contrasted words: genuine, *authentic, veritable, bona fide …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • apocryphal — [adj] questionable; fake counterfeit, doubtful, dubious, equivocal, false, fictitious, inaccurate, mythical, spurious, unauthenticated, ungenuine, unsubstantiated, untrue, unverified, wrong; concepts 570,582 Ant. authentic, doubtless, real, true …   New thesaurus

  • apocryphal — [ə pä′krəfəl] adj. 1. of doubtful authorship or authenticity 2. not genuine; spurious; counterfeit 3. [A ] of or like the Apocrypha SYN. FICTITIOUS …   English World dictionary

  • apocryphal — [[t]əpɒ̱krɪf(ə)l[/t]] ADJ An apocryphal story is one which is probably not true or did not happen, but which may give a true picture of someone or something. This may well be an apocryphal story... There is a story, probably apocryphal, about a… …   English dictionary

  • apocryphal — adjective /əˈpɒkrɪfəl,əˈpɒkrəfəl,əˈpɑːkrɪfəl,əˈpɑːkrəfəl/ a) Of, or pertaining to, the Apocrypha. Many scholars consider the stories of the monk Teilo to be apocryphal. b) Of doubtful authenticity, or lacking authority; not regarded as canonical …   Wiktionary

  • apocryphal — adjective an apocryphal story about a famous person or event is well known but probably not true: Washington s apocryphal phrase: Father, I cannot tell a lie …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English