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Etymology of ANECDOTE: 1676, "secret or private stories," from Gk. anekdota "things unpublished," neut. pl. of anekdotos, from an- "not" + ekdotos "published," from ek- "out" + didonai "to give." Procopius' 6c. Anecdota, unpublished memoirs of Emperor Justinian full of court gossip, gave the word a sense of "revelation of secrets," which decayed in Eng. to "brief, amusing stories" (1761). Anecdotage "garrulous old age" is a jocular formation of De Quincey's from 1823.


An anecdote is something that is not given out. To reason anecdotally then is to take what is not given.

Vernacular evidence: "this is just anecdotal." Opens opportunities and threats of enshrining the singular, the autobiographical, rumor, GOSSIP, hearsay, the unofficial, and the unsanctioned. Which is why it's so powerful, so frightening, so pleasurable. Often preceded by disclaimers--ironic, bad faith, or sincere. See Spivak on the importance of the unauthored (hearsay, rumor, vernacular expertise) to the unauthorized (the subaltern, the unpowerful).

Gossip might be a degraded form of reputation and we all know how important reputation is.

Gossip and conspiracy theory

Gossip as production and destruction of political movements

Anecdote and antidote share the root "dotos" with dowry but not with dotage (which comes from dote, Early ME. doten, dotien (of which no trace is known in OE.), corresponds to MDu. doten to be crazy or silly, to dote. Kilian has, in same sense, doten, = dutten: cf. mod.Du. dutten to take a nap, to dote, dutter a doter, etc., also MHG. totzen to take a nap (dottôjan), Icel. dotta to nod from sleep).


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