Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The biblical books included in the Vulgate and accepted in the Roman Catholic and Orthodox canon but considered noncanonical by Protestants because they are not part of the Hebrew Scriptures. See Table at Bible.
  • n. Various early Christian writings proposed as additions to the New Testament but rejected by the major canons.
  • n. Writings or statements of questionable authorship or authenticity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.pl. Something, as a writing, that is of doubtful authorship or authority; -- formerly used also adjectively.
  • n.pl. Specif.: Certain writings which are received by some Christians as an authentic part of the Holy Scriptures, but are rejected by others.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • A writing or statement of doubtful authorship or authenticity: formerly used, in the predicate, as a quasi-adjective.
  • Specifically— Eccles.: A name given in the early church to various writings of uncertain origin and authority, regarded by some as inspired, but rejected by most authorities or believers.
  • [capitalized] A collection of fourteen books subjoined to the canonical books of the Old Testament in the authorized version of the Bible, as originally issued, but now generally omitted.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. 14 books of the Old Testament included in the Vulgate (except for II Esdras) but omitted in Jewish and Protestant versions of the Bible; eastern Christian churches (except the Coptic Church) accept all these books as canonical; the Russian Orthodox Church accepts these texts as divinely inspired but does not grant them the same status

Etymologies

Middle English apocripha, not authentic, from Late Latin Apocrypha, the Apocrypha, from Greek Apokrupha, neuter pl. of apokruphos, secret, hidden, from apokruptein, to hide away : apo-, apo- + kruptein, kruph-, to hide.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

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