from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of questionable authorship or authenticity.
  • adjective Erroneous; fictitious.
  • adjective Bible Of or having to do with the Apocrypha.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Of doubtful authorship, authenticity, or inspiration; spurious; fictitious; false.
  • Specifically— Eccles.: Of doubtful sanction; uncanonical; having no ecclesiastical authority.
  • Of or pertaining to the Apocrypha: as, “the Apocryphal writers,” Addison.
  • noun A writing not canonical; a book or passage of uncertain source, authority, or credit.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • adjective Pertaining to the Apocrypha.
  • adjective Not canonical. Hence: Of doubtful authority; equivocal; mythic; fictitious; spurious; false.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of, or pertaining to, the Apocrypha.
  • adjective Of doubtful authenticity, or lacking authority; not regarded as canonical.
  • adjective Of dubious veracity; of questionable accuracy or truthfulness; anecdotal or in the nature of an urban legend.

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

  • adjective of or belonging to the Apocrypha
  • adjective being of questionable authenticity


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Late Latin apocryphus secret, not approved for public reading, from Greek apokryphos hidden, obscure, thus (books) of unknown authorship, from apo- away + kryptein to hide. Properly plural (the single would be apocryphon), but commonly treated as a collective singular. Apocryphal of doubtful authenticity is from 1590.


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  • "Apocrypha — that is, books which are not regarded as equal to the holy Scriptures, and yet are profitable and good to read."

    Martin Luther

    April 1, 2008

  • That's a pretty odd quote. Martin Luther was certainly quite radical, though by today's standards his stances were quite conservative. The Apocrypha are "not regarded as equal" for a number of reasons, not the least of which that they don't adhere to the strict message portrayed by the Catholic Church. I can imagine how Luther would support their reading.

    April 2, 2008

  • Maybe this is an apocryphal quotation.

    April 2, 2008

  • Within the Protestant church at least the Apocryphal books were/are considered edifying (i.e. "profitable and good to read") but not part of the canon for the establishment of church doctrine.

    Luther, after all, considered the books worth the trouble of translating into German but, as I understand it, he rejected them as part of the canon because they contained useful defenses for such doctrines as purgatory and the saying of masses for the dead.

    The quotation prefaces the Apocrypha in Luther's translation.

    April 2, 2008

  • adjective: being of questionable authenticity

    The web is notorious for sandwiching apocryphal stories between actual news.

    October 19, 2016